Prevalence of Anxiety, Depression, and Conduct Disorders

For any physician, it is easy to think that the entire world is sick since that is what we see all day long.  In a pediatric GI office, there are high rates of anxiety and depression. A recent study (RM Ghandour et al. J Pediatr 2019; 206: 256-67) shows that not everyone is afflicted.  Using data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health (children 3-17 years), which relies on self-administered surveys, the authors found the following:

  • 7.1% had current anxiety problems
  • 7.4% had a current behavioral problem
  • 3.2% had current depression.
  • Nearly 3 of 4 children with depression had concurrent anxiety, whereas 1 in 3 children with anxiety had concurrent depression.

The study includes detailed tables examining age, gender, ethnicity, region of country, rural/urban, insurance status, financial status, educational attainment, and health status. While this study relies on parent/caregiver reports, the authors note that  “research has shown good agreement between parental report and clinical records.”

My take: Problems with anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems are common but not universal.

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