This study documents the prevalence and impact of anxiety and depression in US children based on the parent report of health care provider diagnosis.
National Survey of Children's Health data from 2003, 2007, and 2011–2012 were analyzed to estimate the prevalence of anxiety or depression among children aged 6 to 17 years. Estimates were based on the parent report of being told by a health care provider that their child had the specified condition. Sociodemographic characteristics, co-occurrence of other conditions, health care use, school measures, and parenting aggravation were estimated using 2011–2012 data.
Based on the parent report, lifetime diagnosis of anxiety or depression among children aged 6 to 17 years increased from 5.4% in 2003 to 8.4% in 2011–2012. Current anxiety or depression increased from 4.7% in 2007 to 5.3% in 2011–2012; current anxiety increased significantly, whereas current depression did not change. Anxiety and depression were associated with increased risk of co-occurring conditions, health care use, school problems, and having parents with high parenting aggravation. Children with anxiety or depression with effective care coordination or a medical home were less likely to have unmet health care needs or parents with high parenting aggravation.
By parent report, more than 1 in 20 US children had current anxiety or depression in 2011–2012. Both were associated with significant comorbidity and impact on children and families. These findings may inform efforts to improve the health and well-being of children with internalizing disorders. Future research is needed to determine why child anxiety diagnoses seem to have increased from 2007 to 2012.