Epidemiology and Impact of Health Care Provider-Diagnosed Anxiety and Depression Among US Children

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2018 Jun;39(5):395-403. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000571.


Objective: This study documents the prevalence and impact of anxiety and depression in US children based on the parent report of health care provider diagnosis.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusion: 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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • United States / epidemiology