Monday, June 6, 2011

How Does Children Presents with Stress, Depression or Anxiety?

When kids present with intermittent vague abdominal discomfort, avoidance of going to school, "feeling sick", and sometimes even vomitting, one needs to consider "stress" as a possible cause of the problem.  However, this is a "diagnosis of exclusion" and hence, the Doctor has to exclude all possible physical causes before we can be confident that it is due to "stress".  This does NOT mean that we have to withhold the implementation of any stress management until all the investigations are done.

A mood diary maybe helpful in order to differentiate whether is is stress related or not.  For example, if the symptoms are always in the morning prior to school and not evident on the weekends, then it is high suspicious that it might be related to "stress".

As highlighted above, sometimes, as a clinician, we would investigate possible physical causes and in the meantime, also address any mood disorders through counselling and CBT principles.  The child may need a referral to a Psychologist or Paediatrician.

Dr Vin
Family Doctor Australia

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