Pediatricians seeing younger patients with anxiety, depression

The stress of the ongoing pandemic is affecting children.
Pediatricians seeing younger patients with anxiety, depression
Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 2:48 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Some pediatricians in Lexington are seeing a trend emerge from the ongoing pandemic - they are diagnosing more children with anxiety and depression.

They are even referring some patients to child therapists, like Dr. Katherine Stone.

“Kids are feeling the same anxiety that adults are feeling, but they have less decision making power. So, as an adult, you can decide, ‘do I go into that store or not? If I walk in and someone’s not wearing a mask, am I gonna stay in, am I gonna say something?’ A kid that’s in a classroom and has a teacher and has even more peer pressure at that age in the classroom is faced with less control of what they do. And when you have less control then anxiety increases,” notes Dr. Stone.

She sees anxiety growing in her clients in three main areas - anxiety about the possibility of getting sick, anxiety over separation from loved ones, and extreme worry about social situations, like returning to school.

“You have plexiglass in the classroom, they’re taking your temperature, you have masks. So, there’s so many changes that that’s really tough for kids,” says Dr. Stone.

Dr. Katrina Hood, a pediatrician with Pediatric & Adolescent Associates in Lexington, now screens her patients for behavior issues, sleep problems, and possible anxiety triggers.

“We’ve said this from the beginning. I remember even day one, day two of the shutdown, make sure you keep a routine. Even if we’re not going anywhere, you should get up at the same time every day. You need to go out and take walks. You need to have a routine set that you’re doing some types of schoolwork because kids thrive in routine,” says Dr. Hood. She recommends parents ask children about their fears and concerns, and be careful when sharing their own.

“Because if their anxiety is really high we know a child is gonna play off that,” notes Dr. Stone. “As this persists, I’m seeing an increase in that in terms of the intensity of anxiety and depression with my clients as well as the amount of new referrals that we get here at the office.”

Dr. Stone says behaviors to watch for include more tantrums than normal, a heightened need to be clingy, stomachaches, headaches, and problems falling asleep.

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