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Newark, NJ: Childhood depression/anxiety increasing; trauma from home blamed

Mar 1, 2020, Newark (NJ) Advocate: (OPINION) Managing depression and anxiety in children https://www.newarkadvocate.com/story/opinion/2020/03/01/managing-depression-and-anxiety-children/4752588002/ There’s much conversation about mental health in children and youth these days. At Welsh Hills School, local pediatrician Dr. William Knobelach recently spoke about depression and anxiety in school aged children to a standing room only crowd at a parent education event. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES), which looks at the impact of childhood trauma on health and well-being later in life, frequently comes up in talks about mental health and addiction. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s new Student Wellness and Success plan allocates funds statewide to school districts to provide services that students need to thrive, both in and out of school. Dr. Knobelach shared we are experiencing a mental health crisis, as the rates of occurrence are increasing while the number of providers of mental health services are decreasing…. What are some signs that a young person has gone beyond worry or sadness into anxiety or depression? Dr. Knobelach described that rather than a mildly upset reaction to a stressful event, a child becomes stuck on an issue or overwhelmed so that he/she can’t enjoy life. A normal response to an upsetting event is a good cry, helping someone feel better; the passage of time also helps heal. Someone experiencing diagnosable anxiety behaves illogically or irrationally, becoming mired in problems. With depression, a youth will have “overactivity in the deep, emotional limbic areas of the brain” which becomes increasingly worse, regardless of positive things happening. A recent summary published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal concurs with Dr. Knobelach’s assessment that “social media is toxic.” Per CMAJ, “Evidence from… studies implicates smartphone and social media use in the increase in mental distress, self-injurious behaviour and suicidality among youth; there is a dose–response relationship…” All is not lost! Dr. Knobelach suggests giving our children a chance to reset device-free through mindfulness or practicing gratitude can go a long way toward changing the effects of stress and negative thinking. Providing protective factors that build resilience are as simple as eating family dinners together and having caregivers show interest in children, providing evidence that you value them and you’re invested in them. “Be kind to yourself. Take care of your body and it will help take care of your mind.”