child signs depression anxiety

Early Child Signs of Depression or Anxiety

May 9, 2023
Early Child Signs of Depression or Anxiety

While many people may naturally assume that issues like depression and anxiety are reserved only for older people, this simply isn't true. These problems can impact children as well, and children who may be affected by them will often begin to show some signs of this sort of thing relatively early on in their lives. 

At First Steps Childcare & Preschool, our caring staff members for all of our child care programs are always here to help parents around Salt Lake City and Rose Park with important themes like identifying and managing these sorts of conditions in their children. Here's a rundown on how anxiety and depression can impact kids, the signs that your child might be dealing with one or both, and how both parents and educators can help identify these sorts of issues and help to manage them effectively.

Risk Factors for Child Depression or Anxiety

While this can vary widely and any child can experience depression or anxiety, there are a few known risk factors that tend to contribute to it:

  • Genetics: A child's risk of depression or anxiety is higher if they have a biological family member who has previously dealt with the same issue. This is the single largest known risk factor for the development of either one.
  • Trauma: If a child has experienced any kind of trauma or abuse - physical, sexual, verbal, or even emotional - they're more likely to develop depression and anxiety later in life as well.
  • Environmental factors: Unstable home lives, ongoing conflict between parents, bullying from other children at school, or any other hostile environment can all contribute to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
  • Other major health issues: In some cases, a diagnosis of any other major physical or mental health issue can increase the risk factor for depression and/or anxiety.

Signs & Symptoms of Child Depression & Anxiety

The signs that your child may be dealing with one or both of these issues can sometimes vary depending on age, gender, and even the individual child's personality. However, some tend to be consistent, including:

  • Intense fear of leaving parents: While many children dislike leaving their parents, children dealing with anxiety may have an especially difficult time. They might cling to the parent and have difficulty being comforted by anyone else.
  • Persistent worries: Children with anxiety may frequently worry about things that most children don't even think of, such as becoming separated from their parents or worrying about being harmed in some way.
  • Trouble sleeping: Young children dealing with depression or anxiety can often experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both.
  • Irritability: It's not uncommon for children dealing with anxiety to show signs of irritability and a short temper. They might also be more clingy than usual.
  • Episodes: Some children may have "episodes" that include high heart-rate, trembling, sweating, and sometimes even screaming.

How Parents & Educators Can Help

The best way to help a child who may be dealing with depression and/or anxiety is to take steps to identify it early on and then work with a mental health professional or therapist to manage the condition more effectively. Here are some ways that parents and educators can help:

  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms: It's important to be aware of the potential signs and symptoms so that you can recognize them early on.
  • Talk to your child: Talking openly with your child about their feelings is an important part of helping them manage their depression or anxiety.
  • Encourage healthy activities: Encouraging your child to engage in healthy activities like exercise, spending time outdoors, and engaging in hobbies can all help to manage anxiety or depression.
  • Find a mental health professional: Working with a mental health professional or therapist can be an invaluable tool for helping your child manage their mental health.

These Are Not Signs of "Weakness"

It's vital that any parent or educator dealing with a child who potentially has depression and/or anxiety understands that these are not signs of weakness. Both can be serious mental health issues, and the earlier they're addressed, the more successful treatment is likely to be. With support, education, and understanding, it's possible for children to manage their mental health issues effectively and lead full, healthy lives.

At First Steps Childcare & Preschool, our experienced educators and child care professionals are here to help with these and similar needs within any of our infant, toddler, preschool or kindergarten programs. Contact us today to learn more about our services for SLC and Rose Park parents and children alike.

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