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Many parents wonder if their children’s fears and worries are normal or if they could have anxiety or depression. Some developmental stages bring common fears, like separation anxiety in toddlers. Yet once your child is old enough to go to school, it can be harder to tell what is “just a phase” and what needs to be addressed.

Anxiety in kids

It is important to address the situation if your child does not outgrow the fears typical for younger children or when anxiousness interferes with school, home, or play. Anxiety may look like fear or worry, but your child may seem more irritable or angry.

What is depression in kids?

Depression in kids, like depression in adults, is more than feeling sad for a short time. Sad things occasionally happen to everyone, so the ability to cope with painful situations is healthy for people of all ages. However, persistent sadness and hopelessness could be depression. Depression is a medical condition and can and should be addressed with the help of a medical professional. Parents struggle with the idea of using prescription medications to treat depression in kids; parents should discuss these concerns with their child’s pediatrician.

Signs of depression in kids

Depression symptoms in kids are much like depression in adults. Parents and teachers should watch for behaviors like –

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable
  • Changes in eating, sleeping, energy and interest levels
  • Feeling worthless, useless, or guilty
  • Self-injury or self-destructive behaviors
  • Thinking about suicide or planning suicide.
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Acting unmotivated or lazy
  • Acting out, causing trouble

Prevalence trends in depression in kids

Depression and anxiety in kids are increasing. By 2020, 12% of kids experienced anxiety or depression, up from 9% in 2016, based on the findings in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book. The number of children with anxiety and depression rose over 25% — from 9.4% (5.8 m) in 2016 to 11.8% (7.3 m) in 2020, and the numbers keep growing.

Reasons for depression in kids

The isolation and fear associated with the early days of the pandemic certainly contributed to childhood anxiety and depression. Logically, we would expect those issues to have waned, but their impact remains.

Childhood depression usually results from a combination of risk factors.

  • Physical health
  • Stressful events or environment
  • Family history
  • Biochemical imbalances
  • Cognitive function

The association of anxiety and depression with cognitive dysfunction has only recently been fully appreciated. A report published by Clinical Psychology Review in June 2021 studied over 200,000 individuals. The research team uncovered the significant impact cognitive skills, such as attention, and memory have on mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.

What can we do to help prevent depression in kids

Cognitive impairment commonly accompanies depression and anxiety. These conditions may be caused by deficits in cognitive skills, or the reverse could be true. However, they are clearly connected and must be addressed together for long-term results.

Improvement in cognitive skills can be achieved with the right kind of cognitive training. What is the “right kind” of cognitive training? It is cognitive training that is comprehensive and integrated, targeting a broad set of cognitive skills with tools and programs that incorporate key neuroscience principles.

While strengthening cognitive skills may not, by itself, cure anxiety or depression, developing stronger skills typically reduces stress for children. Increased cognitive skills help children gain confidence in their ability to learn, solve problems and successfully engage in new learning situations.

Parents can help prevent depression in kids by connecting with cognitive skills tools and programs incorporating key neuroscience principles.

Schedule a free discovery call to learn more about helping your child develop the cognitive skills that will help them be a capable confident learner..




How does depression in kids affect child development?

Childhood depression can disrupt brain development. This change may impact long-term emotional processing, making the child vulnerable to problems throughout life.

What’s the statistical average of depression in high school kids?

According to the CDC, in 2021, 42% of high school students felt persistently sad or hopeless and another 29% experienced poor mental health.

Is depression common in autistic kids?

Over 70% of autistic youth have mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

Does loneliness cause depression in kids?

Loneliness is associated with anxiety and depression in kids with pre-existing mental health issues. The relationship could be bidirectional.

Is sleep deprivation a cause of depression in kids?

Persistent sleep problems increase the risk of anxiety and depression. Reduced quantities of sleep increase the risk for a major depression, which increases the risk for decreased sleep.

What do kids with depression, OCD, and ADHD have in common?

Both ADHD and OCD can trigger anxiety and depression.

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