Anxiety and Depression in Children

Influence of Adverse Childhood Experiences on Anxiety and Depression in Children Aged 6 to 11 Years


The article focuses on the influence of adverse childhood experiences on anxiety and depression in children aged 6-11. It involved analyzing secondary data on different aspects that may lead to adverse experiences in children. The independent variables that were studied include; socio-demographic factors and social determinants of health such as race, sex, poverty level, family structure, divorce/separation of parents, and parental incarceration. Furthermore, parents with drugs, alcohol usage, mental illness, and exposure to illness were studied. The dependent variables were anxiety and depression. The study sought to analyze how these social aspects lead to anxiety and depression in children. A sample of 31,060 primary school children aged 6-11 years was studied.

Article Summary

The study incorporated an analysis of secondary data conducted between 2011 and 2012. Disasters may cause trauma, separation from parents, poverty, displacement from homes, among other effects (Quinn et al., 2016).  Also, exposure to violent events such as fighting or sexual violence may cause children’s adverse experiences. Besides, racism and discrimination are major causes of adverse experiences as Cooke, Bowie, & Carrère (2014) state. Poverty and separation from parents cannot be alienated from factors that cause adverse childhood experiences.

The study found that out of the studied sample, 6% of children have a record of either depression, anxiety, or both (Zare et al., 2018). Out of the 6%, 1% had only depression, while 3.7% had anxiety only. This shows anxiety is more prevalent than depression. 63.4% lived with both parents, while 19.6% lived with a single parent. Regarding poverty, 26.1% reported hardships in affording basic needs. Also, 8.4% of the children lived with someone with a mental condition, while 11.6% with someone who abused alcohol. The analysis also showed that children who recorded high anxiety and depression levels were white (non-Hispanic). They were twice the number of Hispanic children. This is the opposite of the expected because Hispanic children may be expected to live in adverse conditions because of race discrimination.


. However, the study concluded that children exposed to adverse social factors explained such as poverty, discrimination, and the rest may not have access to pediatricians skilled in mental health while undergoing adverse experiences. This could be the root of the high levels of anxiety and depression they suffer. I can incorporate this evidence in my nursing practice to: reduce cases of anxiety and depression to children and help such children overcome adverse experiences such as offering counseling.

Article Critique

The article is well-structured and provides details of the outcomes of the study. It also gives recommendations at the end. Its results are presented quantitatively, which makes it easy to understand. The main weakness is that the research did not focus on getting evidence-based information from respondents; it mainly got it from interviewing them, which is not sufficient because they may lie or hide. I would recommend the article to my colleague because it has researched its variables in detail such that it could lead to further studies.


Based on the article, it can be concluded that adverse childhood experiences such as poverty, separation, discrimination, race, exposure to someone abusing alcohol, or mentally ill could cause anxiety and depression in children. Children who live with single parents have hardships in meeting basic needs, are discriminated against, and are exposed to someone who abuses alcohol or is mentally ill show high anxiety and depression levels. The main point is that undergoing such adverse experiences may prevent the children from finding pediatricians’ support which may lead to poor development and hence, suffer anxiety and depression in life. It is crucial to embrace proper parenting to prevent adverse experiences that could lead to anxiety or depression.

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Cooke, C.L., Bowie, B.H., & Carrère, S. (2014). Perceived discrimination and children’s mental health symptoms: Advances in Nursing Science, 37(4), 299-314. https: // 0000000000000047

Quinn, M., Gollooly, D., Kelly, S., Kolassa, J., Davis, E., & Jankowski, S. (2016). Evaluation of identified stressors in children and adolescents after Super Storm Sandy. Pediatric Nursing, 42(5), 235- 241.

Zare, M., Narayan, M., Lasway, A., Kitsantas, P., Wojtusiak, J., & Oetjen, C.A. (2018). Influence of adverse childhood experiences on anxiety and depression in children aged 6 to 11 years. Pediatric Nursing, 44(6), 267-274, 287.