Child and Adolescent Anxiety

Anxiety disorders can affect children and adolescents. They can interfere with the quality of a child’s life and instill it with worry, fear, and uneasiness. If left untreated the anxiety may increase. The result of this condition may include missed school days, improper socialization, low self-esteem, use of alcohol and drugs, adjustment problems when it comes to work and other situations, as well as a future of anxiety. Children and adolescents can develop the following types of anxiety disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: With this disorder, children and adolescents have severe and unrealistic worry. They are self-conscious, nervous, need reassurance, and have frequent stomachaches and other discomforts.

Phobias: Young people will avoid the things and situations that they fear. Thus, the disorder can restrict their lives.

Social Anxiety Disorder: Children and adolescents with social anxiety disorder fear criticism and judgment by others.

Panic Disorder: Young people with this condition lives in constant fear that they may experience an attack. He or she may not avoid school.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A child is trapped in a cycle of repeated thoughts and behaviors. These thoughts or actions are uncontrollable. The child may repeatedly wash his or her hands, rearrange objects, etc.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: This disorder follows a traumatic event, like physical or sexual abuse, violence, or natural disaster. Young people experience the event in their memories or thoughts. Thus, the young person may avoid things connected to the trauma.

When it comes to children and adolescents, anxiety disorders are among the most conditions that affect life. Around one in ten youngsters may have an anxiety disorder, with more girls than boys affected. Around half of the children and adolescents with one disorder condition have a second anxiety disorder or other mental illness like depression. According to researchers, a person’s basic personality may play a part in anxiety disorders. Being very shy, for example, may signal a risk for developing an anxiety disorder.

Researchers advise to look out for signs of anxiety disorders when children are between the ages of six and eight. This is when children start to become more anxious about school and friendship. High levels of anxiety during these ages may signal a future anxiety disorder. As a child ages, fears may change. Further, according to studies, children or adolescents are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder if their parents also suffer from the condition. It is not known if the disorders are purely inherited. More studies are being done on this issue.

Treatments for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders include cognitive-behavioral therapy, individual therapy, parent training, family therapy, and medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is great at treating some anxiety disorders. Medications work more effectively for others. Some types of anxiety disorders benefit from a combination of treatments.

If parents notice symptoms of an anxiety disorder in a child or adolescent, they should consult the child’s doctor. The doctor can determine if the symptoms are the result of an anxiety disorder or another illness. If necessary, the doctor can refer the child to a mental health expert. It is best to have a mental health professional who is trained and experienced in working with the younger generation and familiar with using cognitive-behavioral or behavior therapy.