Caring for children with emotional disorders grows increasingly stressful over time

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Researchers know that growing up in a dysfunctional family can have a damaging effect on the psychological health of children. But conversely, what effect do children with emotional disorders have on their families?

Now researchers have found that caring for children with emotional disorders can take a toll on the child's family, causing harm to the family's well-being. The effects tend to worsen over time, suggesting that the families and caregivers of such children do not get used to caring for them.

The researchers, led by Theresa J. Early, an assistant professor of social work at the Ohio State University, drew these conclusions from a study that looked at 164 families with children who had emotional disorders.

Early and her colleagues - Thomas K. Gregoire, an assistant professor at Ohio State, and Thomas P. McDonald, a professor at the University of Kansas - reported their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of Family Issues.

For the study, the researchers surveyed caregivers of children with emotional problems who were receiving mental health services in North Carolina. The disorders of the children - aged between 3 and 12 at the time of the first survey - ranged from excessive shyness and paranoia to violent behavior. The caregivers - a group that included p

Contact: Theresa J. Early
Ohio State University

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