On November 15, 2017 JTCONNECT held an event within the PTA meeting at Arthur Stanlick school. Aimee L. Braca Deo, MSW, LCSW, the Program Manager at the Wellness & Recovery Center for St. Clare’s Hospital discussed these issues.
This presentation was directed toward parents with children in grades K-5. Braca Deo discussed how this age group can show different symptoms of anxiety and depression than older individuals. She even stated that these symptoms are often confused for ADHD or anger problems.
Braca Deo opened by discussing symptoms of anxiety in young children. She stated that a common symptom of anxiety is irrational fears such as the death of one’s parents. Another symptom is unwarranted worry about everyday actions. Signs of this can be restless nights, rigid behavior, performing rituals, avoidance and throwing tantrums. In this instance caregivers should primarily adjust their expectations for children and provide specific evidence as to what the child can expect in varying environments. The example for this that was given was if the child was anxious about attending a birthday party, explain to the child specifically where the party is taking place and maybe even drive them around the neighborhood so that they can become familiar with the surroundings. Caregivers should also help children to build tolerance to situations. They should ask open-ended questions such as “how do you feel about ____?” rather than “does ____ make you anxious?”
It is important to seek help if the child is having trouble reaching basic milestones and if their actions are interrupting everyday life.
Symptoms of depression in children on the other hand are often characterized by hopelessness and sadness. Signs of this in your children will appear to be loss/gain in appetite, change in sleep schedule, persistent self-depreciation, ending of relationships and signs of self-harm. Severe episodes of depression will last 7-10 months. If these symptoms are unrelenting and do not subside, seek help through therapy as soon as possible as these issues can spiral out of control quickly.
It is important to get your child a medical screening if any of the following occurs: performing suicide gestures, harming of animals or people, hearing voices, seeing people who are not there, unable to function with daily tasks.