Childhood adjustment to sudden loss of a parent

According to a longitudinal US-based study, more than half of all children and adolescents who experience the sudden loss of a parent will adjust within two years. 

However, about 10% of children will experience prolonged grief and are at risk of depression. The study included 141 children aged 7–18 years whose parent died by suicide, unintentional injury or sudden natural causes. 

For 58.8% of the participants, grief scores decreased significantly between nine and 21 months after the parent’s death, and then stayed low. In another 30.8%, grief reactions increased at about nine months, but then steadily declined.  

However, the remaining 10.4% of participants showed high and sustained grief manifestations nearly three years after parental death. 

The researchers identified a few risk factors for prolonged grief, including prior psychiatric disorder in either the child or the parent, as well as if the parent

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