Dealing with Depression : The Anxious Child

Dealing with Depression : The Anxious Child

Briefly, what is anxiety?

When someone is feeling scared about an upcoming event which causes them to panic (anxiety attack) - trouble breathing/hperventilating is one of many symptoms. 

Briefly, What is depression?

When someone is continuously or suddenly feeling despondent causing them to meltdown (nervous breakdown) - screaming or staring into space is one of many symptoms.

According to *Depression and Me* and other sources : 

Special characteristics in school age children:

-aches and pains

-not wanting to play

-not wanting to see family and friends

-lacking enjoyment

-being clingy and not wanting to separate

-extreme uncharacteristic irritability

Risk factors for developing depression:

-bullying and problems with peers

-being exposed to adversity including child abuse

-death of a parent, loved one or friend

-parents splitting up

-school problems

-moving away from home or country

-other members of the family being depressed

*The more risk factors the more likely it is that a child could become depressed.*

Other examples and forms of childhood depression or early onset of future mental health disorders

- OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

- Anorexia, (Eating disorder)

- Body Dysphormia  (lack of self-identity/image and/or worth)

- Bipolar Disorder (Manic depression) or Schizophrenia

- Childhood illness or disability (diabetes, wheelchair bound, ailments, cerebral palsy, hearing impairment or blindness

- Traumatic events (sexual assault) 

- Personality Disorders (DID - Dissosiative identity disorder, BPD- Bordeline personality disorder or SSD- Sexual sadism disorder)

- Drug and/or alcohol misuse from early age

- Running away from home

Statistics and misconceptions

On a global scale, over 80% of children aged under 10 suffer from anxiety and/or depression and it is never diagnosed until they reach the puberty age groups. Unfortunately there is a misleading guide for parents and families on who to reach out to. Males are not in the forefront when there is a discussion related to mental health in general therefore, young boys are being ignored. This subject is taboo because paternal depression has not been the focal point for depression. Fathers are being taught to disregard their feelings to then impose this onto their sons whereas, mothers are given the opportunities to vent in therapy sessions or post-baby checkups. This can cause confusion and more despair amongst many children especially if there are siblings of different age groups and genders. 

Why is my child not responding? Brain functions and emotional response levels : list of reasons

States of shock, random changes without talking to them, prolonged post natal depression, depressed during pregnancy, no consistent or clear scheduling when taking care of child, not allowing them to talk about their feelings, extreme confrontations when child is present, none or very little interaction with kids their age, none or very little time to bond with others such as important family members, all of these are main causes to a child that may be experiencing emotional distancing or detachment. They may appear to look "older" than they are because of the stress caused by these situations, they will in fact become overly dramatic or show signs of grandiosity. This is also a type of major/manic depressive episode which can lead to Bipolar Disorder from any age but diagnosed in late teens or early 20s. 

Fight or Flight experiences : anxious child

Some children can be extremely happy one minute but the next can be the total opposite. This can be linked to the major changes they see across all parts of their lives for example, unforessen death of mother or father, moving home, changing schools, mother or father who are absent for long periods of time. The progression of depression can be prevented if the caregiver makes time for conversations about these changes with their child. Assisting your child on how to cope with change is a very important part of a child's emotional health. 

Night terrors : Bed wetting, nail biting, thumb sucking after aged 3, harming oneself with nails or banging their head against the wall, threatening to commit suicide, constant verbal and physical abuse towards parents or teachers. 

These are clear signs of anxiety and must be monitored by a sleep disoder team of specialists, purchasing finger guards aswell, act quickly for suicidal thoughts and tendencies. 

The sociopathic child

A child who shows no regard or empathy or is not responding to when someone is in pain can be signs of depression but more-so, sociopathic tendencies. Please be aware of these and take notes of the increased amount of behaviour and actions associated with sociopathy. 


Refusal to listen to others - intentionally, ignoring a request from adult whever it be helping to do chores or getting ready for school. Being irresponsible with belongings purposefully. 

If this is always happening (more than 3 times a day everyday), seek advice from teachers and cognitive behaviour therapists. 

Hyperactivity (ADHD)

This is sometimes due to many changes and not being given the time or able to let it all sink in. 

Attention deficit (ADD)

This is actually mostly triggered by family health history. If mother has this, baby will most likely have ADD. 

Environmental factors that influence adhd/add and other mental health disorders

These include prenatal substance exposures, drug addiction, persistent stress during pregnancy and after, exposure to chemicals, nutritional factors (poor diet), and lifestyle/psychosocial factors (smoking).

Dealing with Depression as a whole : "prevention"

The challenges based on these issues vary but to raise awareness at home is to always make sure you do not have a barrier with your child. Shutting down can make them feel alone, scared and hesistant if they are being bullied, for instance. Always have a well-lit home, colourful, vibrant, lively and not dull, dark or bland; this is extremely important. Access to children centres; make this a routine, access to "fun and productive" environment is key to a successful, healthy relationship with your children as it shows effort and willingness to improve on everyone's well-being, happiness and interaction. Trying your best to NOT have an overload of negativity at home can help your child have a much clearer knowledge on coping mechanisms. Treatable causes such as maternal or paternal depression is not included in this discussion because it is a fault of nobody, this stems from difficulties bonding with your baby. Support networks are available for these before the severe anxiety gets transmitted onto the child.

On the contrary, it has been confirmed in many studies over the years, a baby can be born with depression and urgent diagnosis (early years intervention) is also present from as early as age 4. It is understandable that there are pressures to almost, always keep your head above water is what comes with parenthood, unfortunately, this a role one must try very hard to maintain. 

To summarize this segment, all emotions/feelings from profcound sadness, constant fear, feeling inferior, lack of insecurity, mistrust in others, childhood rage, social phobia can sometimes be avoided and this starts from the eyes your child first sees when they are born. 


7 February 2022

HI there! I have been working with families for over 15 years and have a resume that consists of various amounts of experiences. I have had great success with babies from 6 months old to young adults aged 21. Notably, these include working closely with parents, teachers, therapists in and out from schools to homes to enable the support necessary for children, young people and family members.

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