Children under the age of 8 should be screened for anxiety by their doctor, according to a new recommendation statement from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Children 12 years of age and older should be screened for major depressive disorder, according to another recommendation published Tuesday.
The Task Force makes recommendations that help shape preventative health care in the United States. Although the agency cannot enforce its recommendations, the formality of issuing mental health screenings for children and adolescents reflects the concern of both parents and healthcare professionals about a downward trend in youth mental health, including worsening trends. of anxiety and depression in children during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an April report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 44% of teens experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness during the 12 months prior to the survey.
In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics also urged doctors to screen children 8 years of age and older for anxiety and teens 12 years of age and older for depression and risk of suicide. According to the AAP, suicide is the second leading cause of death among children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24.
In October 2021, the AAP and other organizations serving children and adolescents declared a mental health crisis. The US surgeon general followed suit with a warning two months later.
This month’s recommendations follow last month’s guide for all adults to be screened for anxiety and depression.
Read more: The 988 mental health hotline sees an increase in calls after launch
Symptoms of Anxiety in Children
Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States and can present itself differently from person to person. While many people go undiagnosed until adulthood (or not diagnosed at all), anxiety symptoms often appear in childhood. Common symptoms in children can include being very afraid of being away from their parents, being afraid of school or places where there are many people, being worried about bad things happening or about the future and physical symptoms such as a pounding heart. feeling shaky or dizzy or having difficulty breathing.
Symptoms of anxiety can be frightening (or even life-threatening) for adults and can be even more distressing for children who don’t understand the root of their symptoms.
Read more: Children and mental health: how to control their well-being
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical or health advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care practitioner with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goal.