Guest Opinion: Recognizing depression or anxiety in your child


by Andrea Salzmann, LICSW, Winona Health

Depression and anxiety affect many adults, but did you know that it could affect children and adolescents, too?

According to recent research, depression and anxiety have been on the rise in children and adolescents for the last 50-70 years. In fact, studies show children, adolescents, and young adults are more depressed now than in any other time in our history, including the Great Depression.

There are many reasons for the rise in depression and anxiety rates; however, one main cause is most likely due to how children are viewing their own world and not necessarily with what’s happening in our world. Additionally, what makes depression and anxiety harder to detect is that children do not have the knowledge of what depression and anxiety are and they lack the words to accurately express how they are feeling.

How can you, as a parent, know if your child is beginning to struggle with depression or anxiety? Fortunately, there are several signs and symptoms. These include changes in demeanor; anger; irritability; unexplained crying; changes or loss of interest in activities; appearing sad, withdrawn or isolative; decrease in grades or school attendance; conflict with peers, or behavioral problems at school; or talk of harming themselves or about suicide. Anxiety symptoms may appear similar and include difficulty with separating from you or severe temper tantrums at separation; frequent and unexplained stomach aches in the morning and at school; vomiting, irritability and anger during transitions; sleep disturbance; chronic and uncontrollable worrying; rapid heartbeat or difficulty breathing; poor concentration; and a strong need to have things in their control. These are just some of the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Sometimes signs of depression and anxiety can be subtle, too. However, as a parent, there are things you can do to help your child. Begin by having a conversation with them; explore how they are feeling and what they worry about. Provide support as they open up to you and remember that although it may seem like something very minor to us adults, it can be a big deal to them. Talk to them about healthy ways to manage their worries and feelings, and then provide suggestions to help with coping as well as help them identify people they can trust to talk to when they are feeling sad or worried. Let them know that whatever they are feeling, it is OK and that you are here to help.

If you find that your child continues to struggle with depression or anxiety, it may be time to consider getting your child professional help. There are several agencies in our community that provide children’s therapy services to address issues of depression and anxiety, as well as other mental health needs. If you feel their struggles are becoming too big to handle, be sure to reach out and ask for help. At Winona Health, we are all here to support your child and meet your family’s needs! To schedule an appointment, call 507-454-2606.

Andrea Salzmann, LICSW, is a licensed clinical social worker with experience in individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy serving people ages four to 60. Having held positions in a variety of settings including psychiatric hospitals, outpatient clinic offices, home based settings, as well as in foster care settings, she utilizes her experiences along with cognitive behavioral techniques, behavioral modification techniques, parenting strategies and other therapeutic modalities, to help restore patients to optimal functioning and improve their overall daily life experiences.


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