Anxiety In Children


Expert View: How to spot signs of depression and anxiety in kids Healthy Mind in a healthy body.

Dr Amrita N Shamanewadi MD, PGDFM shares her views on importance of mental wellness and how to spot the problems in kids. She is associated with Trawello Healthcare ( as part of their Expert Panel

“Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strengths ?. Corrie ten Boom Mental wellness is important for all of us to lead a happy healthy life. Unfortunately, mental illness is taboo and the most neglected world over leading to untold suffering. Children too have worries and fears, can feel sad and hopeless at times. Parents should closely monitor their kids and protect their kid’s mental well-being.

Anxiety and depression affect children from functioning well at home, school or other social situations. Globally, Prevalence of diagnosed juvenile anxiety is as high as 7.4% and 3.2% for depression. Undiagnosed cases is estimated 2 to 4 times higher. These numbers are scary and should make parents sit up and take notice.

We can’t let our next generation wilt during adolescence. Gadget addiction, online bullying and increased screen time is worsening the situation. Symptoms of mental health illness are different in children and very difficult to identify. The symptoms differ by age and their inability to express the feelings makes it hard to spot the illness.

Feeling sad occasionally is part of every child’s life. However, following observations can indicate if the child is symptomatic of depression

. • Irritable or violent behavior
• Disinterest in fun activities which it enjoyed earlier.
• Change in sleep pattern and eating habits
• Loss of concentration and dip in academic performance
• Showing signs of self-injury or suicidal tendencies Anxiety is different from depression. Anxiety is a condition when a child does not outgrow the fears. Anxieties can be of several types: • Separation: Afraid when away from parents
• Phobias: Child is extremely scared of lizards, insects, etc Some kids have school-phobia and are afraid to go to school • General anxiety: Worrying all the time about future • Social anxiety: Afraid of crowded places.
• Panic disorder: Repeated episodes of fear with symptoms like pounding of heart, shaky limbs, heavy breathing and giddiness.
In mental illness, the biggest step is timely identification and diagnosis. Once parents understand the root cause, therapy can start the healing process. Kids should feel that they can freely share their feelings with parents. Parents play an important role in taking care of child’s mental health issues during the treatment.

Let’s look at the healing options for depression or anxiety.

a) Psychotherapy/Counselling: Psychologist or psychiatrists talk to the kid, understand and help address the issue. Children often open up about their problems to counsellors which they do not share with parents.
b) Medications: Psychiatrists may prescribe drugs like anti- depressants, anti-anxiety, stimulants, anti-psychotics or mood stabilizers. These medications can be in addition to the counselling.
As parents we need to talk to the kids, recognise the symptoms early and help them get over the anxiety/depression. It is also good to work with your child’s school to secure necessary support from the school teachers. Let’s resolve to make mental wellness a priority.