Anxiety disorders in children
A certain amount of anxiety is a normal part of childhood, and every child will go through different phases, which are usually only temporary and quite harmless. Sometimes, however, when a child cannot get past his or her anxiety or the shyness, fear, and nervousness that is commonly associated with anxiety, there may be something more serious going on.
Research has shown that anxiety disorders actually affect one in eight children, and often go untreated. Children suffering from anxiety are at a higher risk of performing badly in school, missing out on normal social experiences, and may even engage in detrimental behavior such as substance abuse.
When a child suffers from an anxiety disorder, it generally means that the problem is significant enough to require intervention; when the condition lasts several weeks or months at a time it is essential. It is common for anxiety disorders in children to occur alongside other disorders such as depression, ADHD, and eating disorders. Fortunately, there are a number of treatments and support options that can help children learn how to successfully manage the symptoms and enjoy a normal childhood.
Types of anxiety disorders in children
As with adults, there are many different types of anxiety disorders that children may suffer from. One of the most common is Separation Anxiety Disorder, in which children have excessive anxiety and stress when they are separated from an important figure, such as a parent, or from the home. Children suffering from this disorder may cry, refuse to go to bed, eat, or attend school during an episode. Social Anxiety Disorder is also fairly common in children. Those suffering from it usually have an intense fear of performance situations as well as social situations, such as parties and other gatherings, and express an extreme concern about humiliation.
Many parents are surprised to learn that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is also fairly common in kids. This disorder involves obsessions, or unwanted unpleasant thoughts that make children anxious, and may prompt compulsive behavior in an attempt to reduce those feelings. Some children may engage in repeated hand washing, tapping, or checking objects. Like OCD, depression is also common in children, though most parents are under the assumption that it only affects adults. As in adults, children suffering from depression are persistently sad, withdrawn, and irritable.
There is hope for parents and kids
Like other medical conditions, children’s anxiety disorders can become chronic if not properly treated. There are a number of treatment methods, ranging from medication and therapy to diet and exercise, to help manage anxiety in kids. Before parents simply buy Plavix, or any other medication, they should discuss the possible side effects with their pediatrician. Often, doctors will prescribe a combination of medication, therapy, and home remedies that will be most successful. Children suffering from anxiety should be given a well-balanced diet and avoid foods rich in sugar and caffeine.
Just because a child becomes worried or has a bout of anxiety one day doesn’t mean that he or she is suffering from an anxiety disorder, however, parents do need to pay attention and look for the signs that something may be wrong. When a child is diagnosed with such a disorder, Mom and Dad must pay attention to their child’s feelings and stay calm when he or she becomes anxious about a particular event or situation. Parents that recognize and praise small accomplishments, avoid punishing for mistakes, and exhibit flexibility usually have the most success in helping their kids cope with anxiety.