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Stress link to emotional disorders

Stressful events like bereavement, divorce or serious illness experienced in childhood are more likely to result in emotional and behavioural disorders, a new study has found.

Children who experienced three or more stressful events were three times more likely to develop emotional disorders than those who had not, the three-year study found.

The report from the Office for National Statistics, entitled Three Years On: A Survey of the Emotional Development and Wellbeing of Children and Young People, also showed that children who had experienced a serious or chronic illness were twice as likely to develop emotional problems.

Living in a single-parent household was another factor that increased a child's chance of developing an emotional disorder.

The researchers assessed a group of children in 2004 and again in 2007 and found that almost a third (30%) of those who had emotional disorders in 2004 still had them three years later.

Meanwhile, more than four in 10 (43%) who had a behavioural disorder in 2004 still had problems three years later.

Children who had a network of family and friends or were members of clubs or groups were less likely to suffer from disorders, and feeling safe in their neighbourhood also had a positive effect on young people's wellbeing.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

UK Statistics Authority

What are your thoughts on these findings? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"It's not surprising that this is happenening. Both parents are mainly at work and there is less stability in families than there used to be. One parent families where the parent may be working and lifestyle factors are bound to have an effect. The lack of stability and security is not there for children when parents have split up. Also witnessing parents breaking up and feeling isolated will be stressful for the child and repressed emotions will manifest much later if they are not given some type of counselling to help the situation and to be able to confide in somebody neutral to deal with the issues. Later on they will not only suffer emotionally but this will develop into illnesses that are becoming more common. Immune-related disorders as the body fails to be able to cope with the constant stress. Society has the need to have everything too soon and family values have gone out of the window. Children are the ones who are suffering in silence as a lot of them don't know how to deal with this." - Dawn Jones, Stafford

"I believe that children living in a one-parent family are likely to have emotional disorders, especially if they have witnessed conflict between parents and other adults. Childen pick up on the mother's distress and anxieties and having no father to turn to affects them. Furthermore, if the children from one-parent families do not have extended family or a network of friends and groups, they may suffer from emotional problems. I can also understand how children who have had chronic illness and have been in and out of hospital for treatment and operations may suffer emotional problems. They have experienced so much detachment from family and friends and hopitals, tests and operations are traumatic for adults let alone children. I can't imagine what the effects are on these children, only that it must lead to emotional disturbances which may prove to be long term." - Name and address supplied