Anxiety and depression is seen to be at a peak these days and keeping in view the same, Fortis Hospital, Mohali conducted a talk on anxiety and depression at St. Xaviers School, Panchkula, here today. The speaker, Dr. Savita Malhotra said, “Contrary to the belief that children are too young to experience anxiety and depression, about 10-12% of them suffer from significant anxiety and depression at any given time.”
She further added, “Every child is born with a unique temperament and intellectual potential that unfolds and develops within the environment he/she grows in. The environment comprises of parenting patterns, socio economic & ecological factors, values, customs and traditions, expectations, demands and opportunities and so on.”
Dr. Savita emphasized that it is the availability of a right “fit” between the child’s innate potential and temperament on one hand and the environment/experience on the other that will push the developmental trajectory towards normalcy or otherwise.
“Though anxiety and depression manifest most often during late childhood or adolescence, it can start as early as in infancy,” she said.
Dr. Savita further informed the students about the early signs of anxiety and depression, which include clinginess, school refusal, fearfulness, irritability, weepiness, headaches, body aches, nausea, lack of appetite, decreased sleep, hypersensitivity to criticism, anger outburst, aloofness, becoming quieter, sadness, talk of self harm or death, are alerting signals and require attention.
“Most such children feel lonely, insecure, unloved, unworthy, unwanted. It is extremely important to understand the genesis and sources of such feelings or thoughts,” stated Dr. Savita.
“Underlying factors, invariably, indicate problems in dealing with one’s own emotions, thoughts, impulses; problems in coping with either personal/ intrinsic inadequacies, or extrinsic demands or expectations; problems in getting the required amount of help, support or guidance in right time and/or right manner; problems in parenting in the form of suboptimal nurturance and or control/ discipline; conflicts in learnt values/ systems and real life experiences; problems in coping with unfair, unjust society and its systems,” she added.
Handling anxiety and depression in children requires attention to the possible contributors in a given child’s life, and trying to alter the experience and/or coping with the experience. Speaking about the immense significance of parenting, she said, “Parenting is a hugely demanding, time consuming and challenging task where parents are required to incorporate or make space in their lives for child’s issues through a critical rebalancing act in their lives. Education must focus on fostering holistic development of character and values rather than just academic excellence.”
“Prevention is the best form of intervention. Professional intervention is necessary to break the cycle of misery and setting the tone for resilience, restitution and recovery. Intervention takes care of not just the problem at hand but also the future adult and future parent that the child is,” concluded Dr. Savita.
The talk was followed by an engaging interactive session between Dr. Savita and the students & teachers.