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Anxiety and Depression Rises as Childhood Play Declines.

Posted by on Aug. 30, 2013 at 6:54 PM
  • 13 Replies
I don't know about anyone else but I have been noticing a lot of posts talking about children being anxious and or depressed lately - and I feel a bit concerned by this. It just doesn't seem right to me that this is happening more and more lately and I am wondering why. Why is anxiety and depression more rampant today than in the past, say 50 years or so. So, I am doing a bit of a research about this and I came across this interesting article and wanted your opinion. Not just about this article but about anxiety and depression itself.
Do you see a rise in childhood anxiety and depression as I do or do you think that I'm just seeing something that is there? Here is an excerp from the article with a link to the whole article got you to read. Please, I really am looking for your open honest opinions.

The Decline of Play and Rise in Children's Mental Disorders


Rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past fifty to seventy years. Today five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or an anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago. This increased psychopathology is not the result of changed diagnostic criteria; it holds even when the measures and criteria are constant.

The most recent evidence for the sharp generational rise in young people's depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders comes from a just-released study headed by Jean Twenge at San Diego State University.[1] Twenge and her colleagues took advantage of the fact that the MMPI--the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a questionnaire used to assess a variety of mental disorders--has been given to large samples of college students throughout the United States going as far back as 1938, and the MMPI-A (the version used with younger adolescents) has been given to samples of high school students going as far back as 1951. The results are consistent with other studies, using a variety of indices, which also point to dramatic increases in anxiety and depression--in children as well as in adolescents and young adults--over the last five or more decades.

We would like to think of history as progress, but if progress is measured in the mental health and happiness of young people, then we have been going backward at least since the early 1950s. The question I want to address here is why.

The increased psychopathology seems to have nothing to do with realistic dangers and uncertainties in the larger world. The changes do not correlate with economic cycles, wars, or any of the other kinds of world events that people often talk about as affecting children's mental states. Rates of anxiety and depression among children and adolescents were far lower during the Great Depression, during World War II, during the Cold War, and during the turbulent 1960s and early ‘70s than they are today. The changes seem to have much more to do with the way young people view the world than with the way the world actually is.

http://m.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201001/the-decline-play-and-rise-in-childrens-mental-disorders

I apologize if it isn't clickable. Just copy and paste if you can.

  

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by on Aug. 30, 2013 at 6:54 PM
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KrissyKC
by Silver Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 7:59 PM
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Well, I agree, but I think it's linked to more than just play.   The family unit has been under attack for years.   I don't want to bring up my personal beliefs that would cause dissention here.    However, from the feminist movement, to the definition of marriage, to increased divorce rate...   

We have parents that have been raised in "broken" homes by rather "broken people" (not all divorced people are "broken," but many are pretty hurt and disillusioned and even broken down inside).   They have grown up and raised children with issues, who have also grown up and broken down the home and the family even more.   Abuse, drugs, etc...  these are just the tip of the iceburg.   Some issues aren't as prominent as drugs, but they are still "broken" ways to live.   Maybe a parent reacts in anger, or doesn't discipline, or wants to be a child's "friend" instead of a parent.   There are many ways that we are passing on these horrible parenting traits to our kids.

Add that to the pressures of society, not enough hours in the day, extreme living (constantly going from activity to activity)...etc...  Add that to the toxins we have been putting in our food and bodies more.  

Mix it all together, and you have a recipie for problems in our kids.




KrissyKC
by Silver Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 8:01 PM
2 moms liked this

oh, and the concept of "selfism" comes to mind.   I'm not a helicopter type parent and my world itself doesn't revolve around my kids, however, some families put the children's needs dead last over their own...


Bleacheddecay
by Bronze Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 8:02 PM
2 moms liked this

I do think being less active has something to do with it. In the olden days, people and children had to physically work hard just to survive. There was depression even then however. It just wasn't as known, talked about or whatever. In fact, my great, great, great grandmother tried to throw herself off a bridge when she was a kid. She was depressed. But it was just chalked up to being silly or whatever. And she got a beating for it.

In addition to not being as physically worked or "played" we also have myriad environmental hazards that have built up for generations, in our convenience food and in plastics among many others. There are a lot of factors.


Precious333
by Silver Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 8:10 PM
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My opinion, moms are working full time, there is pressure from early n for children to succeed academically, children are loosing their childhood, they are indoors most if the time, or in the car, playing in the computer, video games or watching TV. There are less homemade meals, and more foods that contain artificial ingredients. There is less community and more families keel to themselves so i think kids are also more lonely. I believe all these are factors.
xomrs.chase
by Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 8:12 PM
1 mom liked this
I know in my state suicide has been he 2nd leading COD for years... ages 10-25.

TEN

:(
Chasing3
by Bronze Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 8:16 PM
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YES.

In addition to the lack of free play, I think kids are treated poorly in public schools. There is certainly no play there! There is also a "pushing down" of curriculum - so that what we learned in first and second grade is now supposed to be taught in pre-k and kindergarten. The idea is that if we push it on kids early, they'll be ahead later on. This theory does not stand up in research. Pre-k and kindergarten and probably a lot of first grade should be largely play-based and reading and writing instruction doesn't need to start until first-second.

I read his book by the same title as his blog. It changed my life. I also read the Alfie Kohn books and the Michael Gurian books, which completely validated for me what I felt was wrong with the public school for my son. The books made me completely rethink my philosophy of education and parenting style. 

If you do read his "Free To Learn" book, it isn't the most well written IMO. It's almost like a memoir of how he came to sending his son to a democratic school (Sudbury Valley) and how he became a proponent of democratic schooling and unschooling. So, it felt a little like a sales-pitch to me. But I still liked it.

Somewhat related to lack of play and stress - sInce reading those authors, researching homeschooling, and sending in my homeschool plan to the district, MY anxiety level has completely dropped to zero (it was definately at clinical levels and I'd visited a psychologist for myself and gotten a script for xanax). I feel sane and relaxed and happy. Therefore, my kids do to! They had the best summer ever, no stressing out about finding summer tutors and staying in the game! The school was the source of my anxiety and the source of my kids' anxiety. I hated after school when they got of the bus. The tears would start, the complaining about school, mean teachers, mean aides, mean kids, hating doing homework, no ability to relax and play! I'd alternate between yelling to get their homework done or just practially doing it for them to get it over with. Then there was the anxiety over emails from teachers about whatever stupid thing they were stressing about (usually test prep). And just a lot of generally anxiety that we weren't smart enough or good enough or somehow not able to handle it all and never feeling relaxed on a school night. Some nights I'd be so frazzled, I'd make cold sandwiches for dinner and say: "fine, just watch tv, I'm going to go watch my own show in another room..." Great was to spend family time, huh? My son (the one I"m HSing) was so depressed and anxious at school. Of course it spilled over to home, but my gut was telling me school was the reason. School was telling me home and/or the fact that he was mentally unstable was the reason. Being the dutiful parents, we took the school's advice and brought him to a psychologist. Luckily, the psychologist we went to seemed reasonable. We opted not to pursue testing. The last visit two weeks ago, she was the one who said it looks like we have no reason to continue coming and she'd be there in the future if we needed her! DS is so happy! He did more in the first two days of HSing than I ever could have hoped for! 

My other two are still in public school but I've made it totally clear they have a choice and can quit and find something else, homeschool or private. I've also made it clear hours of tedious homework is not in my values, and their free time to pursue their interests is. So, I'm willing to go to bat for them if the homework becomes a chore this year.

I can really see how the democratic school model or unschooling is just too radical for the general public. I really can't see the public education system making such sweeping changes ever. I think the best that coudl ever happen is the pendulum swings back away form standardized instruction and standardized testing and a more relaxed curicculum - especially in the earliest grades. But I doubt we'll ever have student choice and real, student-centered learning in the public schools. Best possible scenario is no more common core and testing so local schools could develop their own curriculum and learning goals.

Incidentally, I've also followed this other guy's blog for years - he coaches professional athletes. For years he's been saying that parents push their kids too hard in organized sports and try to get kids to specialize in a sport at like age 7! And there is this myth that you have to play your sport for like 20 hours a week, 48 weeks a year or you'll never get playing time in high school, that you have to train like the pros train, that you have to play competitively to get ahead... and he says that is jsut wrong. His theory is kids need a lot of time to just "play" without adults coaching them and where they can make up their own teams and their own rules and try all kinds of different sports  - even just running and jumping - to develop well-rounded skills. He says the young athletes he sees being pushed in one sport and heavily coached overwhelmingly burn out. That the best athletes he works with played multiple sports, club teams as well as competitive teams, individual sports and team sports, and many didn't even get started in their pro sport until high school years.

sorry so long!
Precious333
by Silver Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 8:16 PM
1 mom liked this
Both can.lead to depression and anxiety imo. Also, today i think.more than ever, children are look more as burden than a blessing. It's socially acceptable, even praised, for a woman to have a career over raising a family (although i believe most women hace a desire for children), but a family puts their childern before their own needs and desires are frowned upon, especially a large family (2+ kids)


Quoting KrissyKC:

oh, and the concept of "selfism" comes to mind.   I'm not a helicopter type parent and my world itself doesn't revolve around my kids, however, some families put the children's needs dead last over their own...



KrissyKC
by Silver Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 8:26 PM
1 mom liked this

Ok, every other reason that's stated is small potatoes compared to this one statement you made.   That's the biggest factor in all of this.   Children aren't celebrated and taught their worth because parents are so tired, caught up in todays issues, etc...   

I know not everyone on here is Christian, but my kids just "re" learned today that they are fearfully and wondefully made (apologia anatomy)... I reminded them how amazing and wonderful they are.   Body, mind, spirit....  It was put so simply.   The book just said, "Did you know you are wonderful?"
 



Quoting Precious333:

Both can.lead to depression and anxiety imo. Also, today i think.more than ever, children are look more as burden than a blessing. It's socially acceptable, even praised, for a woman to have a career over raising a family (although i believe most women hace a desire for children), but a family puts their childern before their own needs and desires are frowned upon, especially a large family (2+ kids)


Quoting KrissyKC:

oh, and the concept of "selfism" comes to mind.   I'm not a helicopter type parent and my world itself doesn't revolve around my kids, however, some families put the children's needs dead last over their own...





hwblyf
by Silver Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 8:44 PM
1 mom liked this

I think the last line is quite telling, it has more to do with how the children see the world than how the world actually is.  I think more and more, personal relationships are de-prioritized for online (I say as I answer a question on my computer....), we can't detach ourselves from the immediate gratification of a response to our response, etc.  We behave poorly because mostly we're anonymous, but that can't but creep into our real lives as well, because you can't live with that in you and put it on a shelf at times.  We're content letting the government take care of the woes of society instead of communities doing it.  We don't rally around each other, we tear each other down.  Not everyone does this, not every person does this.  But as a society, these are the things we're moving towards.  We believe that you are impoverished if you don't have internet and a smartphone.  Heaven forbid if you only have a phone that's a phone.  I don't believe these tools are the problem, I believe our focus is the problem.  We don't embrace diversity (well, we say we do, but that applies to skin color and ethnicity, but you'd still better sit down, shut up, don't question anything, and behave like everyone else and if you can't, we can find you a medication that will make you).  I think kids pick up on these things way faster than adults, because we've numbed ourselves to these facets of life.  And if you're not important, that's depressing.

Precious333
by Silver Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 8:54 PM
1 mom liked this
Yes! Even in.the church children are overlooked. Jesus welcome.children and said the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these! The bible talks about how chuldreb are God's way of blessing families! Yet so many churches have trouble finding people to work in the nuseries! Even many christians still react negatively to a family with many children. I am a Christian, so are my inlaws When i announced my pregnancy with nt third my fil said 'you dont need this right now" and my mil said. "You know what birth control is". So i had dh tell them about our pregnancybwith our fourth, and the pressure for dh to get snipped is unbelievable! Anyways....sorry for the rant. Its just a sad thing.


Quoting KrissyKC:

Ok, every other reason that's stated is small potatoes compared to this one statement you made.   That's the biggest factor in all of this.   Children aren't celebrated and taught their worth because parents are so tired, caught up in todays issues, etc...   

I know not everyone on here is Christian, but my kids just "re" learned today that they are fearfully and wondefully made (apologia anatomy)... I reminded them how amazing and wonderful they are.   Body, mind, spirit....  It was put so simply.   The book just said, "Did you know you are wonderful?"
 




Quoting Precious333:

Both can.lead to depression and anxiety imo. Also, today i think.more than ever, children are look more as burden than a blessing. It's socially acceptable, even praised, for a woman to have a career over raising a family (although i believe most women hace a desire for children), but a family puts their childern before their own needs and desires are frowned upon, especially a large family (2+ kids)





Quoting KrissyKC:

oh, and the concept of "selfism" comes to mind.   I'm not a helicopter type parent and my world itself doesn't revolve around my kids, however, some families put the children's needs dead last over their own...








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