The COVID pandemic sent everyone reeling with lockdowns, isolation, and the social media frenzy mixing facts, conspiracy theories, and speculation.

Fear, anxiety, and depression have been on a steady increase for the past two years, but for the most part, the focus has been on adults. Little has been mentioned about how all of this has impacted children and teens – until now.

A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that anxiety and depression in children grew at an incredible rate of 30% from 2016 until 2020. And it continues to rise.

It’s time to pay attention to parents, teachers, and caregivers. Our children need us.

Child and Teen Depression: By the Numbers

The study, conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that there has been a sharp increase of children diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions from 2016 through 2020.

According to the study, children ages 3 years through 17 years were diagnosed:

  • Anxiety – 29%
  • Depression – 27%

Key Components that Drive Depression

The study cited several key components that drive these mental health issues in children:

  • Decrease in daily physical activity
  • Parent or caregiver mental health
  • Coping with parenting demands
  • Decreases in preventative medical visits

There were also reports of increased conduct or behavior problems and childcare disruptions that affected parental employment.

All these components correlate to the pandemic that shut down the world. The fallout was decreased socialization, increased parental stress as parents lost jobs or were unable to go to work, parents being depressed or anxious, and increased social media use.

These factors can add up to stressors that children endure but are not able to express what they are feeling or experiencing. Instead, it often shows up in other areas.

Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in Children

Children often do not have the same signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression that adults do so parents and caregivers must be able to identify them.

Symptoms of depression in children include:

  • Conduct and behavioral problems at school
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Mood swings or mood changes
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Lack of interest in activities they typically enjoy
  • Irritability
  • Changes in eating
  • Isolation or a preference to be alone, not interested in being with friends
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Preoccupation with death

Symptoms of anxiety in children include:

  • Anxiety or fear about the future
  • Worry that one or both parents will die
  • Dizziness, breathing difficulty, sweating
  • Fear of being away from one or both parents
  • Fear that a loved one will die
  • Rumination on things that cause worry or fear
  • Refusal to participate in school activities
  • Stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping, falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Nightmares or night terrors
  • Refusal to go to school

My Child Seems Depressed or Anxious. What Can I Do?

As a parent, you may feel helpless when your child is struggling with the symptoms of anxiety or depression. There are some things that you can do to help them.

  • Make sure that they get some form of exercise daily
  • Spend some quality time with your child such as reading a book or other activity that allows you to interact with them in person
  • Make sure that they get plenty of sleep
  • Give them a safe, supportive environment at home
  • Be accessible to them
  • Make sure their school is a safe, supportive environment
  • Make sure they eat well-balanced meals and don’t skip meals
  • Encourage them to talk to you and give them a safe space to share their feelings
  • Get regular health check-ups

If you suspect that your child is struggling with the symptoms of anxiety or depression, we can help.

Neurofeedback is an effective, painless, non-invasive treatment that retrains the brain to help with the symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADHD, and more.

Call today or schedule your appointment online to see how we can help your family.

Or, schedule a chat with a Mom that’s been down this road before. Dawn Kuhn tried every treatment option under the sun to help her boys, until she finally found success with neurofeedback. She became so passionate about this therapy that she is now part of the Sandstone team! Talk to Dawn and hear about her experience first-hand.

*Sandstone Center for Neurofeedback does not diagnose medical conditions. Sandstone Center for Neurofeedback is a nonmedical, medication-free program for children and adults who struggle.