Anxiety is at a record high in our society today, which includes children.  With anxiety and depression in young people growing to epidemic proportions, mental health care is necessary.  Let’s delve further into anxiety in children to clear up some questions surrounding this topic.

Growing Up

Some healthcare professionals explain that anxiety is simply a part of growing up.  Some degree of anxiety is considered “normal” or “healthy,” but it becomes problematic when it interferes with one’s quality of life.  When a child becomes paralyzed with fear, distressed, or avoidant, daily life is extremely difficult.  When a child doesn’t want to attend school, eat, participate in extracurricular activities, or sleep alone it’s time to seek help. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder or (GAD) could be described as the day to day worries a child might experience regularly. From homework stresses to friendship drama, GAD can make it very difficult for a child to concentrate at school and/or at home.

Separation Anxiety Disorder or (SAD), is when a child doesn’t like the thought of being away from his/her parent or caretaker. They may pretend to be sick in order to stay out of school or they may not like sleeping in their own bedroom alone.

Specific phobias, come into play when a child avoids a certain stimulus.  For instance, in Emetophobia children/adolescents will avoid eating for fear of vomiting. 

All in all, there are many different types of anxiety in children, but this disorder is more prominent than ever.

What Are the Causes of Anxiety in Children?

At our comprehensive counseling practice, we work with many children who are experiencing anxiety.  There is an unquestionable link between the changes in modern day culture and anxiety in children.  Overstimulation from electronic devices coupled with a lack of play has led to damaging consequences.  Unhealthy relationships with food, social media, and other modern day entities are also said to be correlated to many cases of anxiety in young people today. Children as young as six or seven use social media on a daily basis, which can create an inaccurate portrayal of how they should look and act. Children are feeling more and more pressure to adopt a certain look or attitude in order to fit into society. 

Although the shift in modern day society could be to blame for the increase in anxiety amongst children, it can also be caused by genetics.  If a close family member has suffered from anxiety, it is more likely that they will experience it as well.

Certain life situations and changes can also trigger anxiety in young children.  They may have been through a traumatic experience, such as a divorce, death, separation, move, or abuse. These situations can be very difficult for children to process, so anxiety can kick in almost instantly.

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

Some of the signs and symptoms of child anxiety include; changes in sleeping, crying, strange eating patterns, shortness of breath, dry mouth, a racing heart, detached behavior, irritability, fatigue, etc. There are also many invisible signs that you may not be able to detect as a parent.  The best way to diagnose anxiety is by seeing a local mental healthcare professional.

Getting Treated for Anxiety

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be used to treat anxiety in children as well as other modalities. Over time, symptoms may improve and you will be reacquainted with your happy child.

Limit your child’s activity online and make sure you keep the lines of communication open between you.  Understanding and coping with all the intricacies of anxiety can be difficult, but it’s crucial to recovery.