Anxiety and depression in childhood | Monica Palafox Guarnero

With some frequency we can observe that the kids They tell us about their fears me concerns. However, we adults tend to think that they do not have big problems and are completely happy and that practically these unpleasant emotions they are exclusive to adults “the little ones are always happy and carefree”. However, the minors experience these feelings at different times in their life developing. For example, the little ones feel anguish when separated from their parents, even though they are safe and well cared for by other adults who love and protect them. When these feelings of fear and sadness are persistent and extreme could mean anxiety or depression. Since the expression of these states is linked to what a child thinks and feels, they are also called “internalizing disorders”.


When in the life of a child different fears and worries typical of their stage of development, or when their fears and worries are so great that they interfere with their activities at school, home and games, we may be talking about a anxiety disorder. For example:

a. Feeling an irrational fear of being separated from their parents or carers (separation anxiety).
b. Feeling extreme fear in situations or something specific such as dogs, insects, going to the doctor, buttons (phobias).
c. Feeling unexplained fear at school or other places where there are people (social anxiety).
d. Being very worried about the future or bad things happening to you (generalized anxiety).
and. Frequently present episodes of intense, sudden and unexpected fear, which are presented with symptoms such as tachycardia, shortness of breath, feeling dizzy, trembling and sweating (panic disorder).

More from the author

These children are characterized by a fearful temperament, worried, irritable and angry, trouble sleeping, fatigued, with headaches and/or stomach aches. some of the little ones they don’t express their fears and can go unnoticed. We can also meet extremely perfectionist who burst into tears at a rating of less than 10; or those who have experienced natural disasters or situations in which their lives have been in danger, manifesting a disorder by posttraumatic stress.


Feel sadness or hopelessness it is occasionally a part of everyone’s life, including children. However, some of them feel sad or uninterested in what previously attracted their attention, or they feel helpless or hopeless before situations for which they do not have the resources to face them. When we see children permanently experience sadness and hopelessness, they may have depression.

These are the symptom that can turn on a red light in your behaviour:

– They eat much more or much less than normal.
– They sleep much more or much less than normal.
– They feel tired and weak or tense and restless most of the time.
– Their attention is scattered and they cannot concentrate on their activities.
– They express that they are despicable, useless and guilty.
– They can self-harm.
– In extreme cases they think about suicide or plan to do so.
– Some do not seem to be sad and their actions classify them as troublemakers or lazy.

What can be done?

come with a child psychologist, who will also work with child psychiatrist, with the intention of evaluating the child. The important thing is to plan a treatment that involves the family and the school. The cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of therapy used for anxiety or depression, particularly with older children. This approach helps the child to change negative thought patterns for a more effective and positive.

The behavior therapy to address anxiety helps children manage anxiety symptoms, while gradually exposing them to their own fears and learning that “bad things” will not happen to them. They will learn to feel less stressedconsuming nutritious foods, practicing physical activity, sleeping enough hours, with predictable routines and social support.

(The author is an academic from the Iberoamerican University Puebla).

Anxiety and depression in childhood | Monica Palafox Guarnero