If Your Child Has Anxiety or Depression, you need to take the time to read this post!

Know This If Your Child Has Anxiety or Depression

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Did you know adults aren’t the only ones who have trouble with mental health issues? Despite anxiety plaguing my childhood, I had no idea it was so common until recently. In fact, the CDC says that more than 4 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with anxiety.

Depression, while a smaller number, still affects nearly 2 million. Those are some very scary numbers, especially when you consider how many more haven’t even been diagnosed. I was one in that latter group.

My parents didn’t have a word for it back then, but they knew I was different even as an infant. Rumor has it, I would often scream uncontrollably until my dad would take me into a quiet room alone. I was terrified to sleep in my own bedroom, no matter what my parents said or did.

As I reached elementary age, it only worsened. Mornings were awful as the anxiety and dread were so severe I would often end up physically ill.

Anxiety and Depression in My Adolescent Years

As I got older, however, I began to learn to cope in some unhealthy ways that I may describe later. But for now, just know that while I smiled on the outside, I was still miserable on the inside. Social situations, new situations, situations I couldn’t avoid, they all sent me into a mental downhill spiral.

I would handle it as long as I could, and then eventually I would have a break down with heaving sobs. It would release the pressure and it would start all over again. My parents, as loving as they were, didn’t realize the seriousness of the emotional pain I was in. They did the best they knew how to do. But there was a lot they didn’t know.

They May Be More Than Just “Sensitive” – Your Children May Have Anxiety or Depression

anxiety and depression symptoms in childrenRecently, I have seen a lot of people discussing their children’s fears and emotional difficulties and I hear a lot of the same things my parents said, “She’ll grow out of it.” “He just needs to toughen up.” “She has to learn to deal with life.”

While some of that may be true, looking back, my parents now say they wish they had known some things. They wish they had done some things differently. So I wanted to address parents today of kids who are struggling.

Parents with “sensitive children” who are just trying to find out if this is normal. Maybe you’re concerned that your teenager is withdrawing too much from you and others. Perhaps you have discovered your child is harming themselves. Maybe you have a child who cries a lot more than their peers.

These are just some signs that it may be a mental health disorder. You will see a few more of the many possible symptoms of anxiety and depression in children in the infographic to your left.

If these symptoms seem to fit your child, there are some very important things that you need to know. Please take some time to read the following four things you need to know about if your child suffers from a mental health disorder. Consider them carefully and if you decide your child needs help, seek out a therapist, or even talk with your child’s doctor.

Without further ado, the four things you need to know about anxiety and depression in children:

1. They’re Not Faking

I know, this is a tough one because kids do fake things, but anxiety attacks aren’t typically one of them. If your child or teenager has periods of time where they just seem to break down, ask yourself, “How would this actually help them?”

More than likely, you can’t really think of a way that it would. If your child is typically well behaved and compliant, please trust them. Listen to them. Find out how they’re feeling and ask if they know why. Don’t tell them they’re lying. Don’t tell them to stop making things up. Listen to them.

2. They Don’t Want To Do This

Children with mental illness know most kids their age aren’t curling up into the fetal position, rocking back and forth, sucking their thumb, twirling their hair, biting their fingernails, etc. They know they’re different and they don’t want to be different. They’re not trying to embarrass you. They want to be “normal”. But they can’t.

They are struggling within themselves to do the right thing. But it’s not as easy as it may be for you. If you haven’t dealt with chronic anxiety or depression, I am sure it can be hard to understand this, but it isn’t something they can control.

3. It’s Not Your Fault

My mom often blames herself for the way I have felt. And I’m sure others do as well. But Mom, Dad, it isn’t your fault that your child has anxiety. If your child had diabetes, or asthma, would you blame yourself?

I would hope not. I would hope that you would realize that children get sick. Likewise, people suffer from mental health disorders. It’s not your fault or your spouse’s fault. It’s especially not your child’s fault. It just is.

So give yourself some grace and don’t blame yourself. When you do, you might actually find it hurts your child even more as those with anxiety and/or depression tend to blame themselves for a lot of things anyways.

4. They Need Your Help

Sometimes it’s easy to say, “I don’t know what to do. So I’ll do nothing.” But that’s not good enough! I know, it’s hard. You may not understand what’s going on. You’re frustrated. Your child may act out in anger and tell you they don’t want you around.

But they do. And they don’t just want you. They need you to be there for them. They need you to listen to them. And they need you to help them. The type of help they need is different for each and every child. But they need you to help them find ways to fight back against mental illness and to help them reclaim their own smiles.

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If your child has anxiety or depression, they need your help

17 comments

  1. Cristina Petrini

    An important subject and not to be ignored, too often we think that children cannot suffer from these problems!

  2. Chad

    I great up having anxiety but as a kid i had no idea i had it and neither did my parents. Unfortunately! Great post.

  3. Sundeep

    One should not to ignore anxiety and depression in children. There are lot of children who are currently facing these issues.

  4. Lynda Hogan

    Hi. Very interesting and thought provoking. Just so you know – when you click on “For more ideas on how to help those you love who suffer from anxiety or depression, click here” it actually just opens this page again. I thought I’d read more in case I ever need it for the kids.

    1. Jennifer

      Oops! Thanks so much for letting me know. Going to fix that now.

  5. fashionandstylepolice

    What an informative post. We parents need to pay more attention to our children’s mental health.

  6. Cristina Ioana

    It’s painful to know that some children have to go through this alone as their parents either ignore it or make it worse. I can’t imagine the struggle, poor souls. That’s why it’s so important for parents to read and be informed about depression and anxiety in children in order to be able to help their little ones get through this. This article is doing just that.

  7. Shalini

    Anxiety and depression in children are real! I’m glad that you shared some doable tips here.

  8. Alexandra Cook

    It is so hard when they are at the age when they do not really know how to communicate these things. Parents need to be active with them at this young.

  9. Tina Andrews

    I’m so surprised at how wide spread anxiety and depression is affecting so many and even our children. Thank you for bring awareness to this topic

  10. Hannah Marie

    This issue is a a little uncommon to traditional parenthood. It is serious and should not be ignored at all. We shall all spread the word to many.

  11. Priya

    This is such a brilliant post and much need to be talked about in this day and age. Parents need to be sensitive to their kids and take them seriously. It’s not your child’s fault.

  12. Romina Tibytt

    Importan topic! We need more conversations about this, its something that every parent should know and be aware. Thanks for sharing it!

  13. Eloise

    this year my son began to show signs of anxiety (esp at school). It was very hard as a mom to see him hurt and go through such a tough time. I’m doing everything I can to help him and I can tell you it is VERY challenging but I won’t give up on him. I’ll keep on doing everything and anything I can to help him out, no matter how tired I am.
    PS: this is a great post! It’s hard for me to get him to say how and what he’s feeling, etc… this is awesome to see the perspective of someone who’s been through it!
    thanks!

    1. Jennifer

      I am so sorry your son is struggling. I do have to ask, is there any way you can find an alternative for his education? School was honestly almost impossible for me. It’s really hard. Kids are merciless, loud, and often times unruly. My parents found an alternative program where I could attend college rather than high school. I have chosen to homeschool my own kids. It took me getting to the point that I researched how to drop out of school and prepared to do so before my parents were able to find something else.

  14. HolyVeggies

    I feel like we don’t talk enough about mental illness. I don’t know why but I feel like there is a lot of ignorance sorrounding this topic. It’s really sad considering how many people are affected by them.

  15. Fatima Torres

    I love that you’ve included the need for offering your help. I think there’s this misconception that children don’t go through depression. They do , and it’s very real.

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