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Child’s age at parents’ divorce linked to mental health needs

Child's age at parents' divorce linked to mental health needs

A study from the Centre for Fertility and Health is drawing attention in the medical community because of what it has to say about how divorce affects the chances that a child will suffer from depression.

The study, which was carried out in Norway, looked at the correlation between divorce and the use of antidepressant medication by the children of divorced parents once those children became adults between 20 years of age and 44 years of age. Essentially, the study determined that someone whose parents divorced when they were very young (under the age of 4) were the most likely to need antidepressant medication as they got older. Those who were between the age of 15-19 when their parents divorced were 12 percent less likely to need antidepressants later. Those who were already adults when their parents divorced were 19 percent less likely to need antidepressants in the future.

However, before anybody in an unhappy marriage resigns themselves to staying put “for the sake of the children,” it’s important to note that even the researchers admit that there are some problematic flaws with the study itself. Namely, they’re unable to measure many other underlying factors that could contribute to those figures. Things like the relative income levels of the parents, the ability (or lack of ability) of the parents to work cooperatively and more. Researchers were quick to state, “If the relationship is in a poor state, separation may be in the best interest of the child and the parents.”

So, what benefit does this study offer parents who are contemplating divorce? If you’re contemplating leaving an unhappy union, this news shouldn’t frighten you away. It just provides the information you can use to make sure that your child’s mental health needs are thoroughly met both during and after the divorce. Don’t assume that your child’s young age will insulate him or her from the emotional consequences of a divorce. Even if he or she seems to adjust just fine, consider mental health counseling — just to be sure.

Child custody issues following a divorce can be endlessly complicated. If you need legal assistance with yours, don’t hesitate to seek out some experienced advice.

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