Do you know a child or teen who is coping with anxiety and depression? A recent study published in Child Psychiatry and Human Development explored specific characteristics of youth having both disorders. Not surprisingly, kids with both anxiety and depression are more likely to have dysfunctional families, according to research.
As part of the research, 200 children and adolescents aged 7-17 and their parents participated in the study, through Temple University’s anxiety disorder clinic. All of the young people were seeking treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, or social phobia. About 12% of those youth also had a depressive disorder.
Through structured clinical interviews, the researchers learned that those kids and teens having both anxiety and depression had more severe symptoms of both. Compared to the kids with anxiety only, those with accompanying depression had more severe social anxiety, more feelings of sadness and ineffectiveness, and less ability to feel pleasure. These young people also reported significantly more family dysfunction. Unfortunately, family dysfunction has been linked to poorer treatment outcomes for kids and teens struggling with these disorders.
Further studies are needed with a more diverse sample of kids and teens to confirm these findings. Scientists will continue exploring whether current treatments should change for youth having both anxiety and depression.
Many kids and teens experience feelings of worry, panic, and fear. Problems such as divorcing parents, school pressures, or even playing too many video games can create stress for young people. Early treatment of anxiety disorders in kids can reduce the tendency to develop accompanying depression. Here are some signs for parents to watch out for:
- Difficulty with school, peers, or family
- Poor self-esteem
- Frequent worrying
- Fear of separation from a parent
- Substance use or other dangerous behaviors
For parents, it’s definitely important to seek the advice of a trained professional if you are concerned about your child’s mental health. Many effective techniques exist to keep anxiety and depression from controlling a young person’s life. Parents can be proactive and work to identify causes of stress in their kids.