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Strategies to prevent anxiety and depression in children

Researchers from the U.K. analyzed strategies adopted in school settings to prevent anxiety and depression in children.

Mental disorders in children can cause significant distress and hamper their overall performance and learning. Although less reported and detected, anxiety and depression among children show an increasing trend. The use of antipsychotics in children is a matter of debate and the mental health services for younger age groups are not well resourced.

In a recent study, published in the Lancet, researchers collected data from several databases for children between the ages of 4 and 18 years. These youngsters had undergone various interventions in schools or other educational settings to prevent anxiety and depression. Overall 56,620 healthy participants were studied. The results of such interventions were assessed based on self-reported anxiety, depression, or well being. The interventions used were broadly categorized into the following types: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), behavioral, third-wave, interpersonal, and psycho-supportive interventions.

School-based interventions did not show promising results

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy,  helped to reduce anxiety to some extent. However, the researchers found insignificant evidence supporting the school-based interventions in preventing anxiety and depression in children. According to the authors, future preventive strategies should focus on alternative methods encompassing the whole environment of children, instead of entirely concentrating on the child’s mood or thoughts.

 

Written by Dr.Radhika Baitari, MS

 

References:

Caldwell, D., Davies, S., Hetrick, S., Palmer, J., Caro, P., López-López, J., Gunnell, D., Kidger, J., Thomas, J., French, C., Stockings, E., Campbell, R. and Welton, N. (2019). School-based interventions to prevent anxiety and depression in children and young people: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. [online] Available at: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(19)30403-1/fulltext [Accessed 25 Nov. 2019].

Image by Prawny from Pixabay

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