Anxiety And Depression

Suburban Behavioral Health Services

Board Certified Psychiatrists & Behavioral Counselors located in Wheaton, IL & Oakbrook Terrace, IL

Anxiety and Depression in Children

Many children have fears and worries and may feel sad and hopeless from time to time. Strong fears may appear at different times during development. For example, toddlers are often very distressed about being away from their parents, even if they are safe and cared for. Although fears and worries are typical in children, persistent or extreme forms of fear and sadness could be due to anxiety or depression. Because the symptoms primarily involve thoughts and feelings, they are sometimes called internalizing disorders.

Treatment for Anxiety and Depression

The first step to treatment is to talk with a healthcare provider, such as your child’s primary care provider or a mental health specialist, about getting an evaluation. 

Some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety or depression in children could be caused by other conditions, such as trauma. Specific symptoms, like having a hard time focusing, could be a sign of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is important to get a careful evaluation to get the best diagnosis and treatment. Consultation with a health provider can help determine if medication should be part of the treatment. A mental health professional can develop a therapy plan that works best for the child and their family. Behavior therapy includes child therapy, family therapy, or a combination of both. The school can also be included in the treatment plan. For very young children, involving parents in treatment is key. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one form of therapy that is used to treat anxiety or depression, particularly in older children. It helps the child change negative thoughts into more positive, effective ways of thinking, leading to more effective behavior. Behavior therapy for anxiety may involve helping children cope with and manage anxiety symptoms while gradually exposing them to their fears so as to help them learn that bad things do not occur.

Treatments can also include a variety of ways to help the child feel less stressed and be healthier, like nutritious food, physical activitysufficient sleep, predictable routines, and social support.