Loss of a pet can harm mental health in young children

Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have found that the loss of a pet in the family can affect the mental health of children. The findings published in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry say that there is a strong emotional attachment between young adults and pets. Therefore, a loss can severely affect their mental health and can even lead to a depressed state of even three years. Experts say that one of the major losses that children might encounter in their childhood is a loss of a pet, and such a loss can leave a major impact on a child’s mental health. Experts recommend physicians and parents need to give importance to this issue and identify the necessary symptoms so that they get the required help at the earliest.

The study

The study was based on the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) in Bristol, England, which involved 6.260 participants. The data was collected from both mother and child to know the entire history of pet ownership and loss from an early age up to 8 years. In all developing countries, majority of the households have pets as a member in their family. With development, it is seen that almost becoming ubiquitous to own a pet in every family around the globe. Therefore, experts say children form relationships with pets to that humans and make them emotionally attached to them. Having a pet companion provides them a lot of benefits to the children, but their death affects them, which occurs to most of the young children below the age of 8 years. Experts also add the fact that the children’s mental health is getting affected regardless of their economic status and other burdens they experienced during their childhood. And the most fascinating fact was that male children were more affected than female children for a reason unknown. Although many studies were made in the past, all addressed the impact of mental health on adults and not on children. This was the first of its kind, and more research can throw light on this issue. Experts also urge parents, physicians, and caregivers to notice the psychological symptoms to help them with the necessary therapy.

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Source: Medical Xpress

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