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Anxious, possibly depressed 7yo, who do I talk to?

(27 Posts)
aftereight Tue 20-Mar-12 11:34:21

This is a long term, ongoing issue, and has been getting worse over the last few months. I have spoken with her teacher, but think I now need to run it past a health professional. Who do I need to contact? I spoke to a HV who suggested the school nurse first rather than GP, does that sound right?
I just want my daughter to be happy and enjoy her life, rather than endure it.

Frontpaw Tue 20-Mar-12 11:37:47

What is she anxious about?

heliumballoon Tue 20-Mar-12 11:45:25

If you live in London, the Anna Freud Centre offers a free short tel consultation if you are worried about your child's mental health. Google Anna Freud Centre parent consultation service or PM me for link (sorry can't link as on phone).

aftereight Tue 20-Mar-12 11:57:49

She's anxious about everything - Maths, playtime, lunch, what she looks like, work when she's an adult (she cries and tells me she doesn't ever want to be older, not even 8), every event coming up, she needs to know what will be happening and when. She's even started worrying about things she previously likes, like writing at school. She is irritable and cries at the drop of a hat.
She looks so sad most of the time, and rarely manages to lose herself in the moment.

aftereight Tue 20-Mar-12 12:01:55

Thanks heliumballoon, that looks like a fantastic service for families! Unfortunately I am far from London but will google to see if anything similar exists in my area...

Frontpaw Tue 20-Mar-12 12:02:20

Lord - that sounds like me at that age! I was a terrible worrier.

Is the anything she does that she can focus on? I loved old movies and watched OU programmes when they used to broadcaste them at ungodly hours. Does she gave friends?

My ds is 7 and has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. We realised something wasn't right and through discussion with school, went to our GP. He said the school should really have referred him but he referred him to our community paediatrician. Our community paediatrician saw us a few times and consulted with the school and gave us the diagnosis. She then referred us on to Child and Family Mental Health where we now see a psychologist.

The psychologist saw him with us initially but for the moment we (dh and I) go about once a fortnight and discuss tactics with the psychologist and we try to filter them through to ds.

Things have been a lot better for him since we learned better how to help him.

Once we had a diagnosis the school also did an enormous amount to help him there. They have things set up to help him to express his emotions and to help him remove himself from situations which he finds overwhelming or when his emotions are bubbling over (he expresses a lot of anger when he is highly stressed).

Feel free to ask me whatever you want to about the process but I would see your school doctor or GP. The school doctor is the one who should really refer her to your community paediatrician.

I should point out that we are in Scotland so I don't know if things are different elsewhere.

aftereight Tue 20-Mar-12 12:14:25

frontpaw thanks, I like the idea of channelling her thoughts to something positive, and have been trying to provide her with the space (away from her pesky younger sibling!) to read and draw. Other than that she lists her only other passion as eating chocolate!
Friends are a big issue. She has been physically bullied by her closest friend over the last year or so. School is dealing with this issue but it has certainly not helped her to make friends with others and she has retreated into herself even more. I am trying to encourage playdates but she just doesn't seem to have much enthusiasm, and they often get messy as she seems much more emotionally immature than her friends.
It makes me so sad as she is such a lovely, and loving child.
If you were like this when you were younger, what did your parents do to help you out of it?

aftereight Tue 20-Mar-12 12:29:44

carrotsandcelery thanks for sharing your experience, I am really pleased to hear that your son is getting the help he needs. I am also glad to hear that your concerns were taken seriously by the school - one of the things holding me back from seeking help so far has been the lack of ability to describe and quantify the issues, and the fear of being fobbed off by school/hcp.
Have you been recommended any books by the psychologist?
I am going to find the number for the school nurse... Thankyou!

Frontpaw Tue 20-Mar-12 12:41:35

Arg. Ipad ate my post..

My parents didn't do anything. I kept my head down and waited for it all to be over.

I loved having penfriends and joined an agency for schoolchildren. Better then having a bloody 'frenemy'. I was rubbish at making friend and discouraged for it anyway. I am sure your daughter is a great friend but she just picked the 'wrong' friend.

If she is a messy-bessy, go with that! Have a couple of friend over and go some Easter egg decorating, or make some -Dr Oetken sells thee moulds in a box with all the chocolate and decorations. Bakes Ross do good arts activity packs too. Giving them something to do/focus on takes the pressure off deciding which games to play, what to do next...

Brownies? Drama? I am a great advocate of martial arts for kids - especially if they're shy, bullied, anxious, low self esteem...

The Alexander books by Judith Viorts are quite good. They are about a little boy and all the hassles and day to day frustrations of being a little kid. They are 1970s but not too dates for today's children!

Mumtutu Tue 20-Mar-12 12:50:20

Hi aftereight. We did it this way: When we started to look at how to get help for my DD1 (now 11) with her anxiety/phobia/food issues, I started with the GP. He actually suggested that we talk to school nurse, which we did. She came to our house about 8 times and talked through DD1's issues, used 'Big Book of Worries', tried to help her get things in proportion, did some self-esteem work etc. All helped a little bit for a little while (DD1 now seeing CAMHS but her issues quite complex). DD1's junior school also has a school counsellor who she is seeing, reluctantly, once a week until her CAMHS sessions really get going.

Sure it all differs from area to area, but hope this helps smile

sailorsgal Tue 20-Mar-12 12:50:27

I found a great CD called magical meditations 4 kids which ds is listening to to help him wind down and I have just received a copy of Goldie Hawn's new book called 10 mindful minutes which has some useful info on coping with anxiety in children. There is a program called Relax Kids which might have a class near you or they do have cds available.

Mumtutu Tue 20-Mar-12 12:51:22

Sorry - think it's 'Big BAG of worries' blush

aftereight Tue 20-Mar-12 13:05:25

frontpaw thanks, some great suggestions. I'd certainly never considered martial arts, but I'll look into that..

mumtutu thanks for sharing your experience, your school nurse sounds great! It really helps to hear a positive story, and I hope your DD gets all the help she needs.

sailorsgal thankyou, I will search them out on Amazon this evening!

Hi aftereight. They psychologists haven't recommended any books yet but there are good books on Amazon for worriers. What to do if you worry too much which might help.

It is a cross between a book and a work book and the child can fill in sections of it as they work their way through the book.

I really think you should speak to your school doctor though as the referral process takes a long time so the sooner you begin the sooner you get help if it is needed.

aftereight Tue 20-Mar-12 13:23:13

thanks carrots - can you believe that the school do not have the contact details for the school nurse?! shock They helpfully suggested that I call the health centre for details. FFS.
That book looks good though, will order it later.

heliumballoon Tue 20-Mar-12 13:27:51

I've seen that book recommended on MN before- looks good.

aftereight that rings alarm bells for me. I would get to your GP and take it from there. You might not even need to take your dd initially. You could just go and speak to him/her for advice.

When ds has playdates I have had to structure them more than I would have had to for my dd when she was that age.

Eg I might set up an activity like play doh which they can do alongside each other, or decorating biscuits, or playing a board game and so on. As ds's confidence grew I would just be around in the background, cooking or mumsnetting or similar and keeping an ear in their play watching for flashpoints. We now have a few friends who can visit without me being a nervous wreck and without rows or awkwardness. He just needed to rebuild his confidence and develop his social skills a bit (Ds's problem also began with a rather nasty bullying case).

If your dd is a reasonable writer I think a penfriend is a brilliant idea. Writing doesn't require an instant response so they can take their time to consider how to express themselves (much like Mumsnet grin). Maybe you could put a request out on Mumsnet for someone she might identify with and enjoy writing to.

If she loves drawing then my ds might like to exchange drawings with her. He is a keen "drawer" and would love to receive envelopes of drawings and to send them too. Don't worry if you don't think the idea would work for her but if it would then pm me your address and I will pm you mine.

We tried Martial Arts with ds but the particular one available to us locally (we are very rural so the options are limited) required a lot of shouting which completely horrified ds. I know it has worked well for other children though.

Ds also went to a Drama class and that was fantastic for him. He loved it, much to my amazement, and counted down the days to it. He sometimes struggled to perform but it still did him the world of good. Unfortunately his class was merged with a much older and longer class and we didn't feel he was ready for the length of session (2 1/2 hours) or the age span of the class. His drama teacher felt the same. He was very sad about it but he will be able to rejoin the class when he is older.

The psychologist has taught us some breathing techniques which we have taught to ds. The two most successful ones were to imagine he was blowing bubbles or blowing up a balloon and the other was to imagine he was butter melting on hot toast. These have helped to calm him at bedtimes and times when he has become over anxious or is threatening a panic attack.

Frontpaw Tue 20-Mar-12 15:23:13

I was studying to be a child psychologist... I may be good at this! I love the idea of swapping pictures

aftereight Tue 20-Mar-12 16:48:55

carrots thanks, it's good to hear of some techniques which have worked, I may introduce the butter melting one next bedtime when she starts to go into an anxious tailspin!
Am waiting for a place at Brownies to come up, but otger than that she refuses point blank to do any activities other than swimming. Interesting to hear your ds loved drama, my mum sent me to similar when I was young to help my confidence and I hated it!

I really like the penpal idea, and the drawing version - though somehow doubt your ds would appreciate being swamped with dozens of pics of unicorns and fairies grin

I think the problem is finding their "thing". Ds loved Drama (I would have been horrified myself). I loved horse riding (he hated it). Hunting around for an activity which they love and which can build their self confidence does help. Just bringing a smile to an otherwise difficult week can make a difference too.

YankeeDoodle04 Tue 01-May-12 16:07:00

I work for a charity called Anxiety UK and they might be able to help. Visit www.anxietyuk.org.uk for information. They're also doing a web-chat about children and anxiety that might be worth checking out. Good luck and I hope you find the help you need.

piji Tue 01-May-12 16:17:06

Go to your GP, ask for a referral to Child Mental Health Services.

This (I've picked a random area):
www.camhscares.nhs.uk/v/bromley_help
is the type of service which should be available. Options might include:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - CBT
Family Therapy
Medication
Psychotherapy
EMDR
Relaxation

(this is all NHS).

rockinhippy Tue 01-May-12 16:34:17

I can't read all of the replies,so may be repeating,

I've a DD like this too, though she also suffers with IBS, so can be a nightmare at times, the following has helped a lot...

Have you spoken with her School ?? - they will most likely have a School counsellor who will come into the School a day or so a week, they will be able to get counselling for your DD that way - its much quicker than via CAHMS etc, free too & they will have more background on your DD in her School situation, so it will be more relevant to her IYSWIM

A Book I'd recommend you get her … here - its a nice simple read, with lots of exersizes for DCs to do to help with anxiety

Also be a bit careful of giving her TOO much attention over this - it can be self feeding & her anxiety will become an attention seeking thing - very possible at this age - you need to keep a fine balance between letting her know she can talk to you & you will listen - but at the same time keeping it very of matter & no big deal - lots of practical tips to deal with a specific worry, rather than lots of cuddles & attention - IYSWIM

Mine still has her moments, its just part of who she is, but I'm glad to say she's coping a lot better & has a far more balanced view than she used too & thats even after having dealt with a few nasty bullying problems - so don't worry, they can come through it & learn how to cope even when things are genuinely hard

good luck

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