Depression in Children Caused by Divorce

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Dealing with divorce can prove challenging for children. When parents split up, children of the union may learn a whole new way of life, living without one of their parents and juggling a complex schedule of visits. In response to these new circumstances, some children fall into depression. If your child seems to be experiencing divorce-related malaise, monitor him carefully to ensure that this understandable upset doesn’t spiral into depression.


Prevalence of Problems

While children can suffer ill effects from a divorce, there is no guarantee that they will. In fact, only 20 to 25 percent of children whose parents divorce experience post-divorce difficulties, reports AtHealth. This statistic will likely allow some planning-to-divorce parents to rest a little more easily, as it indicates that negative effects from divorce are far from a surety.

Specific Depressive Challenges

The Ohio State University reports that children of divorced parents are at an increased risk for some adjustment-related problems. These children are more likely to develop anxiety issues that can lead to depression. They are also more prone to being withdrawn or avoiding social interactions. Children of divorce are also more likely than children of intact families to abuse substances including depressants, alcohol and narcotics.

Gender Differences

The gender of your child, along with age, could impact how he or she deals with your divorce. If your child is an elementary school-aged girl, she is more likely to experience divorce-related depression, reports AtHealth. Elementary-aged boys, on the other hand, are more prone to acting out aggressively. If your child is an adolescent when you divorce, gender will likely play a small if any part in his reaction to your divorce, as both boys and girls whose parents divorce during adolescences are prone to bouts of sadness.

Divorce or Family Discord to Blame?

While some contend that children of divorced parents fall into depression as a result of the divorce, an MSNBC report suggests that something else may be to blame. This report states that it could actually be the household discord that leads to depression, not the act of parental divorce. This belief is based upon research indicating that children whose parents remain married but are not harmoniously joined also experience depression symptoms.

Reducing Depression Likelihood

If you find yourself ready to divorce, there are some things that you can do to reduce the likelihood that your child is one of the 20 to 25 percent of youths who will experience depression. HelpGuide.org recommends that parents put great effort into not arguing in front of their children. Whenever the children are in earshot, remain positive and polite. Also, never speak ill of your ex-spouse in front of your child, as this individual is still your child’s father and saying bad things about him could be detrimental to the happiness of your child.

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