Children as young as 8 years old should be screened for anxiety according to a leading panel on preventive health, amidst rising cases of mental disorders including depression, among kids and teens, particularly noted during the pandemic.
There isn’t enough evidence to recommend for or against screening for similar disorders in younger children. Hence, these come under “I Grade,” when the balance of benefits and harms cannot be determined. Screening for suicide risk in all youth also comes under this grade.
“Fortunately, we found that screening older children for anxiety and depression is effective in identifying these conditions so children and teens can be connected to the support they need.”
Many children across the United States are suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety, and the screenings combined with follow-up care can reduce symptoms, help in making improvements, and even potentially resolve issues, based on findings of the task force, which added that the wide availability of screening tools at present helps in the process.
Authors of the latest research by USPSTF reviewed 78 studies to examine the evidence on screening among children and teens for anxiety, suicide risk, and depression, with benefits seen through using pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy.
Untreated anxiety could lead to headaches, stomachaches, and other physical issues in the short term. If left untreated, it could lead to trauma, poor academic performance, and developmental delays, said the task force.
Experts have repeatedly pointed to the ill effects of the restrictions brought about by the pandemic that have had a detrimental effect on children, including social distancing, mask mandates, and lockdowns. Meaningful social interactions with friends and the wider society are critical during developmental years.
The report also mentioned that 53 percent of adults with children in their households reported they were concerned about the mental state of their children.