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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Public Health - Stress -

Parents less distressed than non-parents: survey

Public Health • • StressNov 02, 07

Parents may complain that their kids “drive them crazy,” but results of a survey suggest that the opposite might actually be true.

The survey of more than 33,400 U.S. adults identified lower levels of anxiety, depression, or other measures of psychological distress among parents than among non-parenting adults of the same age.

Nonetheless, “there were still an estimated 5.7 million parents who experienced serious levels of these symptoms,” Dr. Mindy Herman-Stahl, a senior researcher at RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, told Reuters Health.

“Serious psychological distress is fairly common among adults and people should be aware that symptoms like sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, and worthlessness can be signs of psychological problems that are highly treatable,” she added.

Herman-Stahl and colleagues compared the prevalence of psychological distress in adults, aged 18 to 49 years, who participated in one-hour, face-to-face interviews for the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

These parenting and non-parenting adults were asked how frequently during the previous year they felt nervous, hopeless, worthless, restless or fidgety; sadness or depression to the point of not being able to cheer up; or had the sense that everything was an effort.

When the investigators tallied the responses and controlled for demographics, they estimated that 8.9 percent of the parenting adults experienced severe psychological distress during the previous year, compared with 12 percent of the non-parenting adults.

The results of the survey are published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Regardless of parenting status, the odds of experiencing severe psychological distress were higher among women, younger adults, and those of low income or receiving Medicaid, the researchers found.

Among parenting adults, those “younger, of lower income, divorced or separated, or receiving Medicaid were the most likely to report serious psychological distress,” Herman-Stahl said.

“Although the news is generally good for parents, we should also recognize that parents in specific situations, particularly those with low incomes, face very stressful situations that can lead to serious psychological distress,” Herman-Stahl stated.

She and colleagues recommend public health agencies and professionals screen, educate, and provide early intervention and treatment referrals for adults at highest risk for severe psychological distress.

SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health, December 2007

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