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Widowed Parents with Minor Children Suffer High Burden of Depression, Study Reveals

A recent study has revealed that widowed parents with dependent children, who are still minors, suffer from a high burden of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress years after the passing of their partners.

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Researchers of the study conducted a cross-sectional assessment, utilizing an online questionnaire, of 42 parents (with average age of 48 years old; 24 are mothers and 18 are fathers) who lost their partners 2-4 years ago; all of them had minor children <18 years at the time of their partner’s passing. The online questionnaire monitored for symptoms of anxiety, depression, grief, and post-traumatic stress.

These parents had between one and three dependent children (with average age of 12 years) living at home with them. Signs and symptoms that are prevalent among these surviving spouses were energy loss (83%) and chest tightness (45%).

Of the group, 45% of the participants claimed having moderate-to-severe symptoms of anxiety, while 40% and 33% said they had such manifestations of post-traumatic stress and depression, correspondingly. Age, the number of dependent children, and time since loss were all unrelated to the burden of psychological symptoms among participants.

Meanwhile, critical modifiable factors did come out as significant correlation of mental health results. For example, having received more information from their healthcare provider regarding the effects of the illness on their partner’s somatic and psychological health correlated with experiencing fewer symptoms of grief rumination, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.

Furthermore, less information about where the participants could turn to for support correlated with greater symptoms of grief rumination, prolonged grief, depression, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety.

Researchers of the study said, “This study increases the understanding of widowed parents’ high psychological symptom burden and may aid clinicians in providing effective communication throughout the illness trajectory.”

The researchers further suggest that “increasing the amount and improving the quality of information provided to patients’ partners should be prioritized in oncology and palliative care settings.”

For complete details & reference of the study, click here.

Source: Psychooncology 2021;doi:10.1111/pon.5658

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