Stress Is Making Our Kids Sick: Learn How, Why, and What You Can Do About It

Stress Is Making Our Kids Sick: Learn How, Why, and What You Can Do About ItNow that autumn is here and school is in full swing, we are hearing more and more about how stressed-out parents and kids are. In addition to signs of anxiety and depression, families are seeing physical symptoms like outsize fatigue, frequent headaches and belly aches, all of which often are caused or worsened by stress. We are seeing an epidemic of mental, emotional, and physical complaints in our children and teens. According to an article published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2022, between 2016 and 2019, anxiety and depression were becoming more common among children and adolescents, increasing 27% and 24% respectively. By 2020, 5.6 million kids (9.2%) had been diagnosed with anxiety problems and 2.4 million (4.0%) had been diagnosed with depression. And of course, the pandemic made it worse. According to the CDC’s 2011-2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, post-pandemic more than 40% of high school students felt so sad or hopeless that they could not engage in their regular activities for at least two weeks during the previous year, and there were significant increases in the percentage of youth who seriously considered suicide, made a suicide plan, and attempted suicide.

Stress is more than just a feeling; it is also physically expressed in our bodies. The biology of stress–how toxic stress is expressed on a molecular and biological basis–can affect physical and mental health in a variety of ways. Anxiety, allergies, learning difficulties and other chronic illnesses are at all-time highs.

Some other symptoms of toxic stress include:

  • Lingering sadness
  • Loneliness
  • Feelings of not belonging
  • Withdrawal into screens
  • Difficulty making/retaining friends
  • School Avoidance
  • Learning challenges
  • Behavior issues
  • Chronic headaches or migraines
  • Chronic Bellyaches and GI issues
  • Frequent asthma attacks
  • Frequent infections

Traditional western medicine is often not able to address these conditions in a lasting or meaningful way because instead of asking “Why?” and getting to the root cause, the focus is on symptom suppression. This approach can leave many families feeling as if they’re playing “whack-a-mole” with every new symptom.

Nobody needs that kind of frustration and at StressWell, the new service offered by GetzWell, we instead focus on getting to the root-cause of your child’s symptoms. That process can include looking at how stress biology is showing up in the nervous system and the body, identifying and discussing stressors, the internal biological stress responses, and practical strategies for addressing the root-cause stress biology. Additionally, we can help your child build their “resilience muscle” in a customized and achievable way. For example, some children can benefit from pediatric neurofeedback treatments we offer. Neurofeedback is a painless, non-invasive technique used to increase mind-body awareness and decrease the effects of stress. Neurofeedback trains the brain to become stronger, more flexible, and more resilient.

Please call us if your child is stressed, not themselves, or is suffering in any way. We are happy to speak with you anytime about how our tools and techniques can help.

To learn more about the mental health crisis we are facing and how StressWell is addressing the needs of our children and teens, please mark your calendar for October 17th at noon. We will be hosting an eye-opening webinar featuring GetzWell’s Dr. Rachel Gilgoff, Dr. Devika Bhushan (former acting CA Surgeon General & Equity Mental Health Advisor), and Dr. Jorina Elbers (Trauma-Sensitive Pediatric Neurologist). Register for the webinar.

Want to know more?

We are committed to providing the best pediatric care in the Bay Area. If you want to learn more about our practice, please contact us.