CAN CHILDREN REALLY BE CLINICALLY DEPRESSED OR ANXIOUS?
When is therapy for anxiety or depression necessary for your child?
As a parent or guardian, ask yourself these questions:
Is your child worrying uncontrollably (to the point where not much calms them down? Has your child been more irritable lately? Is there a significant change in your child’s behavior? Is your child having issues with sleeping lately? Was there an event that deeply impacted them in the past 6 months or so? Is your child experiencing frequent headaches? All of these can be indicators of anxiety or depression.
It is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with both depression and anxiety. About half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
“When children do not outgrow the fears and worries that are typical in young children, or when there are so many fears and worries that they interfere with school, home, or play activities, the child may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.” Examples of different types of anxiety disorders include:
- Being very afraid when away from parents (separation anxiety)
- Having extreme fear about a specific thing or situation, such as dogs, insects, or going to the doctor (phobias)
- Being very afraid of school and other places where there are people (social anxiety)
- Being very worried about the future and about bad things happening (generalized anxiety)
- Having repeated episodes of sudden, unexpected, intense fear that come with symptoms like heart pounding, having trouble breathing, or feeling dizzy, shaky, or sweaty (panic disorder).
“Occasionally being sad or feeling hopeless is a part of every child’s life. However, some children feel sad or uninterested in things that they used to enjoy, or feel helpless or hopeless. When children feel persistent sadness and hopelessness, they may be diagnosed with depression.” Examples of behaviors often seen when children are depressed include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable a lot of the time
- Not wanting to do (or not enjoying doing) fun things or activities that they used to enjoy
- Changes in eating patterns – eating a lot more or a lot less than usual
- Changes in sleep patterns – sleeping a lot more or a lot less than normal
- Changes in energy – being tired and sluggish or tense and restless a lot of the time
- Having a hard time paying attention
- Feeling worthless, useless, or guilty
- Self-injury and self-destructive behavior
Extreme depression can lead a child to think about suicide or plan for suicide. For youth ages 10-24 years, suicide is a leading cause of death. Read more about youth suicide prevention Some children may not talk about helpless and hopeless thoughts, and they may not appear sad. Depression might also cause a child to act out appear unmotivated and resistant, so others might not notice that the child is depressed or may incorrectly label the child as a trouble-maker or lazy. CDC: Center for Disease Control and Prevention
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF OBSERVING THESE SYMPTOMS IN YOUR CHILD: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
“At Victor Counseling Practice we have provided healing from anxiety and depression for over 50 children under 13 just in the past four months. This issue is common, but also very treatable.” Jeff Young, LCSW-R owner Victor Counseling Practice, June 2017
THERE IS GOOD NEWS:
Mental health treatment for children and teens is more effective than ever. There is no oneway to treat a child with depression and or anxiety. However, treatment of depression and anxiety in children has come a long way. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and relaxation skills (such as mindfulness) are very helpful ways to treat depression and anxiety.
“We have found that Play Therapy is an effective treatment for children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, and behavioral problems. It is also an excellent way to help children recover and heal from stressful or traumatic experiences.” Play Therapy: How it Helps Children Feel Better and Improve Behavior
Another effective combination of treatments includes therapy (such as CBT or Play Therapy) as well as medication. Although we are always very cautious when it comes to children and medication, we have more experience and evidence with children and mental health medications: Medication treatment and children by the FDA:
“Recent studies are providing important new information about drug safety and effectiveness for children. Pediatricians say it’s about time.
Most drugs prescribed for children have not been tested in children. Before the Food and Drug Administration initiated a pediatric program, only about 20 percent of drugs approved by the FDA were labeled for pediatric use. By necessity, doctors have routinely given drugs to children “off label,” which means the drug has not been approved for use in children based on the demonstration of safety and efficacy in adequate, well-controlled clinical trials. The FDA is working with the AAP to educate pediatricians about new physician labeling changes through an online continuing medical education program called PediaLink.“
Much more information is available on the effectiveness of medications treatment of children’s mental health; i.e.; CBT or Medication for Non-psychotic and Psychotic Disorders Please talk to your child’s pediatrican if you’re having concerns or are interested in discussing medication.
WHAT IS THE PARENT’S ROLE IN ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION TREATMENT WITH CHILDREN?
“Before your child begins any type of treatment, you may want to ask what the goal of treatment is and what new skills your child will learn as a result of it. You should also ask what to expect and what specifically you may see in your child as a result of the treatment? You also may want to be sure to ask specifically how you can best support your child and how you will be involved in your child’s treatment throughout the process.”
HOW TO BE ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN YOUR CHILD’S TREATMENT; Association for Children’s Mental Health
Research shows that parent engagement in treatment fosters success.
“Parental engagement in the treatment process is influenced by parents’ beliefs about the cause of their children’s problems, perceptions about their ability to handle such problems, and expectations about the ability of therapy to help them … Reviewed studies indicate that parental attributions (beliefs) and expectations influence three aspects of treatment: help seeking, engagement and retention, and outcome.” Engagement in Child and Adolescent Treatment: The Role of Parental Cognitions and Attributions Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychological Review reported:
How do you know that counseling will really work for your child? Well, not every child is a fit at Victor Counseling Practice. However, if we feel that we cannot provide the most effective treatment for your child, we will guide you to the appropriate child specialist. As an example of successful treatment for a child, a Victor Counseling Practice parent stated recently:
“My child can manage bullying comments better; his grades are going up and he is not as irritable at home. I think he is going to make it through this school year okay.”
Collaboration with community services and the school is key to many children’s success. Here is what a local community resource manager had to say about one of the child therapists at Victor Counseling Practice:
“As the Ontario County Children and Youth SPOA Coordinator, (our therapist) has referred several youth and families to SPOA, and has worked collaboratively over the past few years to help ensure that we had the clinical information we needed to activate referrals. In mental health service provision, collaboration among service providers is paramount, and (our therapist’s) attention to this vital aspect of service delivery is very much appreciated.”
-Kris Sweeney, LCSW-R, ACSW – Ontario County Children and Youth SPOA
WHAT RENEW HOPE AND HEALING HAS TO OFFER:
- We have convenient hours, starting at 7 AM Monday through Thursday for those who need appointments before work or school, and as late as 8 PM on Monday Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Saturday appointments for those who need appointments after school, work or extra-curricular activities.
- We accept most insurances. See here for more information about payment/insurance.
- We have offices in Victor, Henrietta, Pittsford, and Penfield, NY. We also provide telehealth.
- All therapists are licensed in NYS and have significant experience with children treating anxiety and depression.
- Many children at the last session report enthusiastically that they want to return.
NEXT STEPS FOR HELP AND HEALING:
- Consult your Primary Care Physician or Pediatrician.
- Research your options for counseling in your area.
- Call or contact online Ontario County Children and Youth SPOA: 585-398-8835 if you desire more than counseling assistance.
- Call/Text Victor Counseling Practice in Victor, NY at 585-398-8835 for an appointment or more information or fill out an appointment request here.
Victor Counseling Practice: Counseling in Victor, NY. Also Servicing Surrounding Areas Such as: Canandaigua, Farmington, Clifton Springs, Geneva, Shortsville, Macedon, Palmyra, Pittsford, Fairport and Bloomfield.