Depression and anxiety in our children and adolescents

By Leila Kakvand

Research indicates that depression and anxiety often co-occurs in adults.  Unfortunately, co-occurring depression and anxiety also happen to children and adolescents.  In fact, anxiety and depression are the issues mostly commonly seen in children and adolescents.  Experts estimate that “approximately 11% to 69% of anxious youth suffer from a depressive disorder, and 15% to 75% of depressed youth suffer from an anxiety disorder” (Rosenbaum, 2005).   Youth who don’t receive treatment for anxiety and/or depression have a higher risk of developing other disorders.

Symptoms of depression include persistent feelings of sadness, guilt, and hopelessness.  These symptoms are often accompanied by loss of interest in pleasurable activities or hobbies, changes in eating and sleeping habits, and decreased energy.  Symptoms of anxiety include feeling nervous, difficulty concentrating, worry, and panic.  Individuals with a panic disorder may have a hard time breathing due to hyperventilation, and may feel like they are going to die.  However, most panic attacks are caused by an adrenalin rush and pass in about ten minutes- sooner if the client uses self-soothing techniques like deep breathing.

Speaking of decreasing symptoms- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most documented approaches shown effective in treating depression and anxiety.  “The encouraging results of CBT for the treatment of childhood disorders have resulted in increased demand for this form of psychotherapy”(Thomas Richardson, 2005).  The basic premise of CBT is that our negative thoughts affect our emotions, which, in turn, drive our behaviors.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps individuals identify anxiety and depression producing thoughts and change those negative thoughts to more accurate and positive thoughts.  More accurate and positive thinking then changes negative moods and feelings to facilitate changes toward more productive and effective behaviors.   Not getting necessary treatment could cause mental health disorders in future for these individuals as an adult.

Leila Kakvand is a counseling intern at The Lighthouse, founded by Dr. Ray and Rev. Jean Kadkhodaian. The Lighthouse provides the guiding light of emotional wellness for individuals, couples and families. In addition to providing a unique and more successful approach to working with couples called, Couples Synergy, which was created by Dr. Ray and Rev. Jean, The Lighthouse provides services such as: marriage counseling, relationship counseling, family therapy, individual counseling, divorce counseling, psychiatry and personal development workshops.