I have seen a steady increase in anxiety related problems up to severe depression in individuals younger and earlier than ever before.
Jack was only 8 and already on a list of medication to relieve his anxiety, suicidal thoughts, feelings of overwhelm and depression, mainly related to school and the pressure to perform. His mum looked like a bundle of nerves herself, no doubt suffering with her beautiful young boy. “He is so traumatized by having to go to school and the fact that he is not sporty like other kids adds to his sense of doom and his lack of self worth”. Another problem was, that it took the whole family all afternoon to help him with his homework or coax him into even starting the impossible task. There was no time for play, for any out-of school activity he would have enjoyed – and obviously he didn’t belong to any soccer-club or other sports club either. I always feel like crying myself when I witness such pain and often unnecessary trauma.
Usually we don’t work with children on medication, especially on Ritalin or other stimulants as the use changes their neurology and behavior, sometimes making it hard for the new tools and methods to take hold. Jack wasn’t on Ritalin and we progressed well with him being on his anti-anxiety and anti-depressant pills and the related medication to help him sleep, relax, eat, function.
Luckily, only 2 weeks after the program, it was not necessary to keep taking his meds and the doctor agreed to wean him off. It often just takes a different approach for children to settle into themselves and into life. Surprisingly, the new focus and orientation also helped Jack in sport. He now enjoys Soccer and Tennis, finally able to be in the right balance and coordination state to get into the game. Good on you, Jack! Well done!
The following article gave me a good insight in the cycle of depression in young people, starting with a lack of control and the rise in depression. They state that
“during the same half-century or more that free play has declined, school and school-like activities (such as lessons out of school and adult-directed sports) have risen continuously in prominence. Children today spend more hours per day, days per year, and years of their life in school than ever before. More weight is given to tests and grades than ever. Outside of school, children spend more time than ever in settings in which they are directed, protected, catered to, ranked, judged, and rewarded by adults. In all of these settings adults are in control, not children.”