Doctors recommend screening for anxiety in children, adolescents

Health

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Today’s political and health climates have caused a lot of stress for adults, but children aren’t untouched either.

A recent recommendation from a health professionals organization suggests kids, beginning at age 13, should be screened for anxiety.

Dr. Kelsey Ragsdale, with Pediatric Associates, said anxiety in children isn’t something to panic over, but adults shouldn’t ignore it.

“I do think it’s a normal thing for kids to have,” she said. “It just depends on to what level they have it and how much it affects their daily living.”

She said untreated anxiety in kids can lead to substance abuse and other related mental health conditions.

“There is a lot of crossover between anxiety and depression in a lot of teenagers,” Ragsdale said. “We want to try to identify those symptoms or those concerns before they get to a problem that they’re really causing significant impacts.” 

Her practice officially starts screening with a questionnaire at age 13, but she said that doesn’t mean doctors aren’t looking for earlier signs.

“Depending on the answers, it can give us insight to whether or not that child might have a degree of anxiety because it’s such a common emotion,” she said. 

Meg Daugherty lives in Overland Park and has four kids.

“I don’t consider myself a very anxious person,” she said. “In general, I’m pretty go-with-the-flow, and so I just assumed my kids would be the same way.”

Sometimes your children might be experiencing anxiety, even though they might not explain or show it with their words. Daugherty said she’s seen it in her kids, especially when it comes to things like competitive sports.

She believes pediatricians screening kids for anxiety is a wise move.

“Having the knowledge a lot sooner, I think, could definitely benefit so many people,” the metro mom said.

Ragsdale said medicine is an option and prescribed when necessary, but she wanted to stress to parents that it’s never too early to have your child talk with a therapist, psychologist or counselor because behavioral conversations can be a very helpful part of treatment.

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