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.