Children Anxiety, Symptoms, Effects And Treatment
What is Children Anxiety?
Anxiety can be viewed as a normal part of childhood which affects every child in their tender age. It is a normal stage every child usually go through, but the stage is harmless and temporary. It is natural for kids to feel anxious or worried from time to time and it happens at one stage of their lives such as when they are starting nursery or primary school or moving to a new environment.
Anxiety can be defined as a feeling of fear, unease or worry, and children mainly react to it during change or stressful conditions. However, anxiety affects some children more than the others on a daily basis. It affects their thoughts and behaviors to the level of interfering with their studies, home, and affecting their social life.
At this stage, a professional hand is needed to help the situation before it gets out of control. Children who suffer from this disorder are characterized by nervousness, fear, and shyness as well as avoiding activities and places.
Symptoms of Children Anxiety
There are many signs of anxiety in children but vary in the individual kid. However, if there is any anxiety in a child, the reason for it may differ based on the child age and other factors. For example, separation anxiety is more common in younger children, while teenagers or older children likely to worry more about school performance, health, or relationship. These signs include the child feeling panicky, scared, and ashamed or embarrassed.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that your child may not be matured enough to know why they are feeling in such way. These and many other symptoms should be looking out for, in your kid as listed below:
- Lack of focus or struggling to concentrate.
- Getting angry or irritated quickly or always uncontrollably during an outburst.
- Waking up in the night with severe nightmares or not able to sleep.
- Loss of appetite or not eating well.
- Feeling fidgety or tense, and observing using the toilet frequently.
- Having negative thoughts or always worrying.
- Tummy aches complaint and feeling sick.
- Always crying.
- Being clingy often when other kids are okay.
- Fear to do what they can do and always asking for help.
- Can’t sleep alone without parents.
- Doesn’t want to go to school
Types of Children Anxiety with their Causes
There are different types of anxiety-related disorders commonly experienced during childhood depending on the age of the child. Highlighted below are the common types experienced in children and teenagers:
- Separation anxiety: This is one the earliest types of kids’ anxiety as it is commonly seen in children between the age range of 18 months and 3 years. It is related to children’s distress and fear of being separated from their mothers or caregivers as they keep clinging to them and don’t want them to leave them. The kids also have issue sleeping in their rooms. This type of anxiety is characterized by crying, pleading, tantrums when caregivers want to leave the child depending on their age. This anxiety should be expected when the child reaches school age and should be tackled as earlier as possible.
- Social phobia: This type of anxiety is a high level of fears and shyness of being found in a negative light or position. It is a severe fear of becoming embarrassed or humiliated in the public or social gathering. Adolescence or younger children commonly experience it. Kids with social phobia usually avoid social interactions including contributing in class, talking to new people, or performing in the public as they are often feeling inferior to others.
- General anxiety disorders: This affects children in various aspects of their life. It usually occurs between the age range of 7 – 11 years when the child is diagnosed to have unrealistic and excessive worries about things that insignificant to other kids. The child is seen pre-occupied and worried about his past behaviors, popularity, cleanliness, looks, and much more. He or she frequently lack confidence and focus.
- Specific phobia: This type of anxiety may affect any children at any stage as an individual child is afraid of one thing or the other. It can be severe or illogical fears of particular situations or things such as injections, dogs, flying, river, bees, darkness, tunnel, escalators, and much more. The child becomes anxious when confronted with the feared things or circumstances.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: This type of anxiety is characterized by recurrent obsessions and compulsions that are time-consuming and usually result in serious impairment in daily performance. A child with the obsessive compulsive disorder has continuous unwanted thoughts of germs, dirt, images, impulses that are suffered as inappropriate and intrusive which lead to distress or anxiety.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: This disorder may develop after a traumatic event like a fatal accident, witnessing a serious violence or experiencing a life-threatening event. Children with post-traumatic stress disorder are characterized by irritability, sleeping patterns, and having issues with concentration. They may be experiencing flashbacks of the traumatic events, and this tends to affect their behaviors and relationship with people.
Children Anxiety Treatment
Treatment of anxiety in children can sometimes be challenging, but there are available and effective treatments. The first step is to start carrying out an extensive evaluation on the victim. A comprehensive evaluation involves:
- A review of present signs and symptoms, their duration, and intensity level of the condition.
- An in-depth review of the child background and development.
- Psychiatric and medical history.
- The family background and psychiatric history.
- An examination of the child mental status
This evaluation process also includes parents and guardians to get the necessary background history and information and also take part in the treatment planning. In addition to the assessment process, the psychologist or psychiatrist will discuss and arrive at an individualized treatment plan which may involve a combination of following:
- Counseling: This requires getting a professional to have a talk with the child confidentially about his or her worries. There is usually a good result if the person is somebody unknown to the child. Counseling sessions can help children with anxiety work out the actual things that are causing the anxiety and possible ways to work through the situations for a better result.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: This is usually referred to as CBT, and it is a talking therapy that involves managing the problems of the children with anxiety by altering the way they behave and think. The child and therapist will work out something to help the child change the way he or she thinks by strategizing a plan to cope with the situation that is causing the anxiety in the child. However, the treatment has been proven effective for children older than 6 years, and no research has confirmed its success for children younger than six years.
- Medication: This is another type of children anxiety treatment involving the use of drugs such as a type of antidepressant referred to as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This medicine helps the child to fell calm and change his or motive towards things. However, the parent should be aware that antidepressants effects may not be felt immediately as it may take up to 2 – 4 weeks to work properly. There are also natural side effects of antidepressants which you should know and report them to your doctor as they happen immediately.
- Family therapy: Parents also have roles to play in achieving quick recovery of their child. Cognitive behavioral therapy offers parents education and enlightenment on how to help their child with anxiety based on the type of anxiety their child is facing. Some of the parenting strategies advised by CBT to facilitate therapy treatment at home are ignoring plan, negative or positive reinforcement, reward planning, and modeling.
Effects of Children Anxiety
Children anxieties have been described as common disorders among the children and tend to occur during childhood. Their treatment is found to be efficient and help children cope with their stresses, and efficiently manage their anxiety. However, if children anxiety disorders are ignored and left untreated, they can become a greater issue as the child ages. The effects of children anxiety cannot be over-emphasized, and they include:
- Aggravating physical and emotional health
- Causing eating anxiety disorders
- Alcohol addiction
- Self-harming behaviors
- Lack of concentration that leads to poor academic performance
- Interpersonal relationship issues
- Poor performance at work
- Substance abuse
- Social isolation
- Bad behaviors and thoughts of suicide
Generally, every child undergoes one stage of childhood anxiety or the other. Though the level of seriousness may vary from one child to another, and the symptoms differ from stage to stage based on the types of anxiety a child is experiencing. However, there are available and effective treatments for kids’ anxiety and it ranges from counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, to medication or a combination of them all.
It is important to take note of your child and watch out all the listed symptoms and signs of each type of anxiety to prevent it from growing into something uncontrollable. At that stage, the effects can be harmful and disastrous. This content has provided the needed information to identify, prevent, and treat children anxiety. Digest them and be informed.