The unseen struggle: Depression and anxiety in youth

By Regence
August 21, 2023
teen with parent

Imagine waking up after a night of sleep, still feeling tired, restless and overwhelmed. Or perhaps you've noticed that your mood changes quickly, shifting from happiness to sadness in the blink of an eye. These feelings are more common than one might think—especially with today’s youth. Anxiety and depression are among the most diagnosed mental health conditions that children face today.

The struggle is real

A growing number of young people are experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests significantly higher rates for anxiety (19%) and depression (23.8%) for children and adolescents in 2021, compared to lower rates for anxiety (11.6%) and depression (8.5%) in 2012. Despite these increases, many kids don’t receive the care they need.

“It can be easy to overlook the signs of anxiety and depression, especially when the symptoms are subtle or mild,” says Andree Miceli, Regence's clinical director for behavioral health. “Sometimes, people might dismiss these feelings as just being tired or moody, not realizing they could be signs of a deeper struggle. It's important to pay attention and seek support if needed.”

The first line of defense

A trusted ally in the early detection and intervention of anxiety or depression may be a child’s primary care provider (PCP). The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for anxiety in young people ages eight to 18 and screenings for depression in adolescents ages 12 to 18 years. PCPs can play a crucial role in identifying symptoms and referring patients to a mental health professional for confirmation of their diagnosis and treatment.

“By addressing anxiety and depression symptoms, we empower young individuals to manage these challenges with resilience and strength,” says Miceli. “Seeking help early not only improves their mental well-being but also equips them with coping strategies they can use for the rest of their lives."

We’re here to help

If you or your child needs emotional support or mental health care, we can help you find the behavioral health care option that fits your needs. Most of our health plans offer virtual mental health treatment options from providers such as AbleTo Therapy+, Doctor on Demand, Talkspace, Charlie Health and more. No referral is needed – you can visit the provider’s website and fill out their intake form for an appointment. 

We encourage you to visit these providers’ websites or call our customer service team at the number listed on your member ID card to verify which virtual care and traditional behavioral health options are available through your health plan. 

Remember 988 – the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors who will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if needed.