Having a child that needs pediatric cardiology care is a difficult time in any parent’s life. The stress and uncertainty caused by a congenital heart defect can take a toll on their mental health.
Now research suggests that parents of children with heart conditions are more at risk for mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Research Suggests Parents at Risk
In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers studying data from ten countries found that up to 30 percent of parents of children with congenital heart defects had symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of PTSD. Of those, more than 80 percent showed significant symptoms of trauma.
Between 25 and 50 percent of parents reported elevated symptoms of depression, anxiety, or both, and 30 to 80 percent reported experiencing severe psychological distress. The researchers also found mothers of children with a heart defect at particular risk for mental health problems.
Parental Mental Health Affects Children
A parent’s mental health and stability has a significant impact on the emotional development of a child. This makes it very important for parents of children with congenital heart defects to get support as they cope with their child’s illness. The process of coping is ongoing, and help can be found both through family and community, but also through professional support.
How to Get Practical Support
There are a number of ways for a parent of a child with a congenital heart conditions to get help. The support received from family, friends and community is very important for parents.
Local and online support groups also offer a way to connect with other parents who are having similar experiences and can relate on an emotional level.