When people learn they have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or epilepsy, the news may understandably frighten them. According to findings published in BMJ Open, kids who are diagnosed with long-term illnesses of this kind are more likely to develop emotional disorders, reports HealthDay.

For the study, researchers surveyed 50 kids ages 6 to 16 within one month of an asthma, food allergy, epilepsy, diabetes or juvenile arthritis diagnosis. The children’s parents also participated in the assessment.

According to the parents’ responses, 58 percent of the kids were dealing with at least one mental health problem. In addition, 18 percent of the youngsters reported that they experienced mental health symptoms. (For this reason, scientists suggested pediatricians speak not only with their young patients but also with their caregivers to accurately assess children’s mental state.)

“Regardless of their condition, children with physical and mental health problems experience a significant decline in their quality of life within the first six months after receiving their diagnosis,” said Mark Ferro, PhD, a professor at the University of Waterloo School of Public Health and Health Systems in Canada and a study researcher.

Findings also showed that signs of mental health issues decreased to 42 percent six months after diagnosis. Scientists suggested that the reduction in children’s distress might result from kids getting a better understanding of their illnesses and learning how to manage and treat their conditions over time.

Researchers concluded that the data highlight the importance of identifying at-risk children early and the need for resources to support them.

Click here to learn how suspended and expelled students may face mental health issues later.