Types Of Anxiety Disorders Seen in Children
Many people associate anxiety disorders with adults, convinced that only the mental stresses inherent in the grown-up world can be overwhelming. The truth of the matter is that more and more children are developing anxiety disorders. In fact, approximately 10% of children and teens suffer from some form of anxiety.
There are Several Kinds of Childhood Anxiety Disorders
Generalized Anxiety subjects a child to extreme anxiety attacks regarding a vast number of issues including upcoming events, school, family health, or their own health. For children, it may be difficult to control the amount of time spent worrying about these types of issues. When they experience excessive anxiety during the majority of days for at least six months it’s time to seek help.
Some symptoms of anxiety disorders in children that might appear during that six-month period are:
- Restlessness or feeling on edge
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance
Separation Anxiety is found in a child who is extremely unwilling to leave home or separate from major attachment figures such as parents, grandparents, or older siblings. The threat of having to separate from a caregiver generally results in high anxiety.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety include:
- Excessive worry about potential harm toward oneself or one’s caregiver
- Avoiding activities that may result in separation from parents
Selective Mutism is usually seen around the time children enter school for the first time. The primary feature is a child’s persistent failure to speak in specific social situations where speaking is expected, despite the fact that they’ll speak in other situations. For example, a child may be a chatterbox at home but freeze up as soon as they reach their classroom. After a child suffers from this disorder for at least a month it’s typically time to seek treatment.
Social Phobia is the intense fear of becoming humiliated or embarrassed in a social situation. Children who suffer from this anxiety disorder may also fear:
- That others are more competent than they are
- Talking with authority figures such as a teacher or principal
- Speaking to others in public
- Using the public restroom
- Writing on the board in front of their peers
School-related disorders, such as school refusal, can develop from a combination of the above disorders. With this condition, a child may avoid school either because of the social problems it presents or because of specific phobias they may encounter, such as test-taking or a fear of school bathrooms due to contamination.
Suggested Treatments for Childhood Anxiety Disorders
In most cases, when treating children, therapists aim to educate them on ways to identify, evaluate, and change their anxious thoughts. They encourage positive self-talk and coping behaviors that compartmentalize how the child should react in particular situations.
Oftentimes, therapists will model appropriate behavior for the child to see or initiate role playing that challenges the child to overcome the situations they fear the most. In all cases, parents play an important role in helping to reinforce positive behaviors and reward the child for their successes.
If your child is suffering from anxiety, please call us at 561-496-1094 to schedule an appointment or contact us online today. We are here to help and answer your questions about anxiety and children.
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