Depression and Anxiety


Depression is a medical illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Depression can cause physical symptoms, too.

Also called major depression, major depressive disorder and clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn’t worth living.

More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply “snap out” of. Depression is a chronic illness that usually requires long-term treatment, like diabetes or high blood pressure. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or other treatment.

Depression symptoms include:

Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
Irritability or frustration, even over small matters
Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
Reduced sex drive
Insomnia or excessive sleeping
Changes in appetite — depression often causes decreased appetite and weight loss, but in some people it causes increased cravings for food and weight gain
Agitation or restlessness — for example, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
Irritability or angry outbursts
Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
Indecisiveness, distractibility and decreased concentration
Fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy — even small tasks may seem to require a lot of effort
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself when things aren’t going right
Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
Crying spells for no apparent reason
Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
For some people, depression symptoms are so severe that it’s obvious something isn’t right. Other people feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.

Depression affects each person in different ways, so symptoms caused by depression vary from person to person. Inherited traits, age, gender and cultural background all play a role in how depression may affect you.



Anxiety disorders can affect children and adults. Examples of anxiety disorders include:

Generalized anxiety disorder. Uncontrollable and excessive worrisome thoughts about many areas of life, including work, relationships and health, even when there is little or no reason for worry.

Social anxiety disorder (social phobia). Irrational anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being viewed negatively by others.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Recurrent, irrational fears and thoughts (obsessions) that you respond to by engaging in uncontrollable, repetitive behaviors (compulsions).

Panic disorder. Repeated episodes of sudden, unexplained feelings of intense fear and anxiety that cause physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, dizziness and shaking.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Anxiety caused by vivid memories of a traumatic life event that was seen or lived through.

Specific phobias. Overwhelming, irrational fear and discomfort around certain objects or situations, even when there is no actual danger.

Separation anxiety disorder. Persistent fear of being separated from one’s parents or home.

Teen Depression

Teen depression has become something of an epidemic in our society. Major depression (also called “clinical” or “severe” depression) is a mental disorder characterized by abnormally low moods that last for at least two weeks. Depression is the most common mental disorder and, according to the American Psychological Association, approximately 20 percent of teens will go through at least one episode of teen depression by the time they graduate from high school.

Causes of Teen Depression

Abuse or conflict at home
Being bullied at school
Chronic illness
Family history of depression
Gender (females are at a greater risk for teen depression)
Hormonal changes
Low self-esteem
Other issues such as anxiety disorders, behavioral problems, and/or learning disabilities
Stressful life events (i.e. a break-up, divorce, death of a loved one, etc.).
Teen Depression Symptoms
Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:
Agitation, irritability, and difficulty concentrating
Apathy and loss of interest in daily activities or hobbies
Change in personality
Changes in appetite accompanied by weight fluctuations
Constant fatigue and lack of energy
Feelings of worthlessness, guilt and low self-esteem
Suicidal thoughts.

Teen depression may include additional symptoms not observed in adults with depression. Some of these teen depression signs include:

Changes in sleeping patterns
Cutting or other forms of self-injury
Eating disorders
Isolation from family and friends
Poor performance at school and work
Substance abuse
Violent and/or criminal behavior.
Teen Suicide

Teen depression is associated with a greater risk of teen suicide. According to the World Health Organization, teenagers are now the highest risk group for suicide in approximately 33 percent of countries around the world.

Common warning signs of teen suicide include:

Expressing the wish to be dead
Getting affairs in order by giving away prized possessions
Talking about suicide
Worsening symptoms of teen depression.

The Anxious Child

All children experience anxiety. Anxiety in children is expected and normal at specific times in development. For example, from approximately age 8 months through the preschool years, healthy youngsters may show intense distress (anxiety) at times of separation from their parents or other persons with whom they are close. Young children may have short-lived fears, (such as fear of the dark, storms, animals, or strangers). Anxious children are often overly tense or uptight. Some may seek a lot of reassurance, and their worries may interfere with activities. Parents should not discount a child’s fears. Because anxious children may also be quiet, compliant and eager to please, their difficulties may be missed. Parents should be alert to the signs of severe anxiety so they can intervene early to prevent complications. There are different types of anxiety in children.

Symptoms of separation anxiety include:

constant thoughts and intense fears about the safety of parents and caretakers
refusing to go to school
frequent stomachaches and other physical complaints
extreme worries about sleeping away from home
being overly clingy
panic or tantrums at times of separation from parents
trouble sleeping or nightmares

Symptoms of phobia include:

extreme fear about a specific thing or situation (ex. dogs, insects, or needles)
the fears cause significant distress and interfere with usual activities

Symptoms of social anxiety include:

fears of meeting or talking to people
avoidance of social situations
few friends outside the family

Other symptoms of anxious children include:

many worries about things before they happen
constant worries or concerns about family, school, friends, or activities
repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions)
fears of embarrassment or making mistakes
low self esteem and lack of self-confidence

Severe anxiety problems in children can be treated. Early treatment can prevent future difficulties, such as loss of friendships, failure to reach social and academic potential, and feelings of low self-esteem. Treatments may include a combination of the following: individual psychotherapy, family therapy, medications, behavioral treatments, and consultation to the school.

If anxieties become severe and begin to interfere with the child’s usual activities, (for example separating from parents, attending school and making friends) parents should consider seeking an evaluation from a qualified mental health professional.