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Why do our kids have rising anxiety in America

It seems to me that most of today’s kids have so much more than my peers and I did thirty-plus years ago, yet studies are showing anxiety in children to be on a steady rise in the 21st century.

A study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics states that data from 2003, 2007, and 2011–2012 were analyzed to estimate the prevalence of anxiety or depression among children aged 6 to 17 years.

The report states that lifetime diagnosis of anxiety or depression among children aged 6 to 17 years increased from 5.4% in 2003 to 8.4% in 2011–2012

It also states: Anxiety and depression were associated with increased risk of co-occurring conditions, health care use, school problems, and having parents with high parenting aggravation.

Children with anxiety or depression with effective care coordination or a medical home were less likely to have unmet health care needs or parents with high parenting aggravation.

The report concludes, “…more than 1 in 20 US children had current anxiety or depression in 2011–2012. Both were associated with significant comorbidity and impact on children and families. These findings may inform efforts to improve the health and well-being of children with internalizing disorders. Future research is needed to determine why child anxiety diagnoses seem to have increased from 2007 to 2012.”

Anyone else feel like addressing the elephant in the room?

None of us want to face the fact that our kids – especially pre-teens – are facing increasing anxiety. It steals a kid’s right to be a kid. Our childhoods are both fleeting, yet impactful to our health and happiness for the rest of our lives. The mental health of our kids impacts all of our futures.

Social media/internet

Many of us will immediately blame technology and social media for the increase in unhappiness. I’ve heard of many studies to support this, and I think it’s one of the biggest issues, both good and bad, facing our kids. The 24/7 accessibility to online bullying and unlimited content puts kids in a time where they can’t really come home and recharge their batteries anymore. That is, unless we as parents truly monitor the responsible and limited use of tech in our homes.

But, even this isn’t the elephant in said room of which I speak.

elephant-roomThe Great Recession

Yes, the Great Recession. A time when many of us found ourselves in the leanest, most desperate years of our lives. Over night a fake economy  forged by greedy bankers and enabled by inept government leadership came crashing down on top of us. We’ve been left fighting for the leftover scraps while the 1% flew off to the Hamptons in their private planes with our hopes and dreams.

I’m pretty sure that has a lot to do with the rise in anxiety of our children.

When our parents aren’t sleeping, their nerves raw and tongues sharp, I’m pretty sure that’s had a substantial impact on our kids.


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