Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents

Topic: Psychiatry
Words: 561 Pages: 2

Mood and anxiety disorders encompass a broad range of conditions that fall under the category of mental health disorders. They include common mood disorders such as depression, seasonal affective disorder, bipolar disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, premenstrual dysmorphic disorder, mood disorder due to a general medical condition, substance-induced mood disorder, and others. Importantly, in children and adolescents, mood and anxiety disorders are more complicated to diagnose because they do not necessarily have the same symptoms nor express themselves the same way which adults do. Such conditions can coexist with other challenges such as destructive behavior, drug issues, family problems, and others.

The symptoms and indicators of mood and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents include difficulty with relationships, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, irritability, aggression, hostility, a lowered interest in activities that were enjoyed previously, difficulty resting, as well as issues with concentration. Depending on the environmental factors that affect individuals, they will experience different symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders. The pathophysiology of mood and anxiety disorders is varied: in some instances, genetics override the environmental factors, causing mood and anxiety disorders. In others, there may be changes in hormone levels that affect individuals mentally and behaviorally, while the impact of environmental factors such as experiences of grief, bullying, domestic abuse, and unexpected life changes can also play a significant role. It could be difficult for parents to recognize whether environmental or genetic factors have caused a problem in their child, especially if they cannot easily express their emotions and thoughts.

If parents suspect that their child or adolescent is struggling with a mood disorder, it is recommended to ask their physician or pediatrician for a referral to a child psychiatrist or therapist. Making an accurate diagnosis of a specific mood or anxiety disorder, including any other conditions, is the first and most important step in managing and treating the disorder adequately and effectively. At the stage of diagnosis, a mental health provider will have to look at the child’s overall health and medical history, the systems with which they present to the provider’s office, patterns of behavior at home, school, and with peers, and environmental factors that can cause stress. Besides, it is necessary to assess the input from teachers or counselors about issues at school, the past experiences with specific therapies and medications, as well as consider parents’ opinions and preferences for options of treatment.

When it comes to treatment, mood and anxiety disorders can be addressed with the help of evidence-based strategies, especially when a problem is recognized in time. For example, non-pharmacological treatment can include individual therapy such as cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal, which can identify critical problems and help children understand how they can manage stressors (Servant, 2019). Pharmacological treatment can include antidepressants, beta-blockers, buspirone, antipsychotics, and other drugs. Patient education materials on mood and anxiety disorder should encompass information for children, adolescents, and their parents or caretakers regarding how to recognize symptoms early, assess the impact of environmental factors, determine the instances when the further diagnosis is needed, as well as understand possible treatment options. Resources to access include the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, American Psychological Association, and American Psychiatric Association. For advocacy and support, one can access The Anxiety Network or Anxiety Central, while financial assistance can be found through GoodRX, Medicine Assistance Tool, or NeedyMeds.


Servant, D. (2019). Non-pharmacological treatment for anxiety disorders. La Revue du Praticien, 69(9), 985-987.

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