Depression and Anxiety in Kids

Depression and anxiety are the most common psychiatric disorders among children. Around 7% of children between 3 and 17 years old have anxiety, while approximately 3% suffer from depression. Depression and anxiety are higher among older children between 12 and 17 years.

What is Depression?

Depression is a psychiatric disorder that leads to persistent sadness and loss of interest. Major depression may affect how your child feels, how they think, and how they act, which can cause several emotional and physical issues. Children suffering from depression are likely to experience difficulties in carrying out their day-to-day activities. In children, depression can cause pains, aches, worry, clinginess, weight loss, and refusal to attend school.

What about Anxiety?

Anxiety is a mental disorder characterized by worry or strong fear, interfering with the child’s normal activities. Anxiety in children appears in different ways such as: Phobias are an extreme fear of an object, an activity, or a situation, Panic disorder, which includes recurring panics in unexpected times, Social anxiety, which involves the kids’ fear of being judged by others. Other anxiety disorders in children affect post-traumatic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and illness anxiety disorder.

What Foods Should My Child Avoid With Depression or Anxiety.

Diet is essential since it affects how one feels and how well they deal with depression.

  1. Sugary foods

It is essential to regulate your child’s sugar intake, especially if they suffer from anxiety or depression. Sugar stimulates adrenaline and other stress hormones, which, if left unchecked, can foster tension and depression. Eating sugary foods will also wreck your blood sugar while boosting energy levels, affecting your brain health and moods.

  1. Fruit juice

The fiber present in whole fruits helps in slowing down the blood sugars and regulates energy. In the absence of fiber, your kid will only be drinking sugar water which can easily excite them. This will make them hangry and angry very fast and will excite their anxiety. It is advisable that you give your child whole fruits and if they are thirsty, give them water.

  1. Hydrogenated oil

Fried cheese, fried chicken, or French fries do not only foster weight gain but have also been linked to depression and anxiety. Deep frying involves the use of partially hydrogenated oils. Everything that is prepared using hydrogenated oils contains trans-fat, which is known for boosting depression.

What Foods Can My Child Consume for Depression and Anxiety

Selenium rich foods

Low selenium level in the body is sometimes associated with anxiety and poor moods in children. Sometimes taking supplements can help in boosting selenium in the body. But, it is advisable to stick to selenium-rich foods to fight depression in children. Selenium rich foods are found in 

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Seafood such as water fish, crabs, oysters, and crabs
  • Beans and legumes
  • Dairy products
  • Lean meat


It will help if you give your kid an avocado in their salad, make guacamole or add them to smoothies. Avocados contain healthy fats, which are vital for the smooth running of their brains. Many avocado calories are from its natural lubricants, which are monounsaturated, appearing in oleic acid.

Tomatoes and greens

Tomatoes are rich in folic acid and alpha-lipoic acid, which are crucial in fighting anxiety and depression. 

Low vitamin B is also associated with depression and anxiety in kids. Because greens are rich in vitamin B and folate, they are also essential in fighting depression and other psychiatric disorders. Low folate levels in the body may also prevent anti-depressants from working effectively.  The B vitamin present in greens helps lower the level of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with depression and anxiety.


Fish consumption is attributed to better moods and stable mental health. Research shows that omega 3, an essential fatty acid found in fish, helps in improving attitudes. It is vital to incorporate fish into your child meals to boost their mood and fight depression.

Omega 3 and Brain Health

As previously noted, Omega 3’s are mainly found in fish oil and some specific marine algae as well as olive oil, nuts, and seeds.  Cases of depression appear to be minimal in the regions where people consume a lot of fish. Omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA have the highest potential in managing anxiety and depression. Omegas 3 travel into the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-regulating cells in the brain. They also have anti-inflammatory properties that help in lowering depression and anxiety.

EPA and DHA are crucial in the brain development of babies. Pregnant women who consume fish have, over time, had high scores for their babies’ tests of IQ and brain functionality.

Omega 3 is also attributed to regular brain maintenance and functionality throughout an individuals’ lifespan. They are numerous in cell membranes in brain cells, aiding in maintaining cell membrane health to enhance brain activities. Poor Omega 3 intake can lead to deficiency in DHA in the brain, attributed to small brain size

Depression and anxiety are very common among children. However, with the right diet, it should be easy to control/ fight the disorders.

Here is How HKNA can Help

Help your child by enrolling in one of our nutrition programs. Our curriculums are up to date with the latest nutrition studies and news all to ensure your child will gain an understanding of healthier eating and maintaining a healthy mind. 

Introduction to Nutrition for Preteens

Introduction to Nutrition for Preteens will discuss topics such as food foods, food processing, how our bodies digest and use food and so much more

Fundaments of Nutrition for Teens

This introductory nutrition class will teach students basic nutrition principles and theory so they can take steps to live a healthier lifestyle.

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