Understanding Anxiety Disorders in Children

Stress and anxiety are not limited to only adults, but even children are equally vulnerable to various anxiety-related symptoms. While it is easy to ascertain an anxiety disorder in adults, children could be left in a limbo because of a gap in understanding symptoms and reaching out for treatment.

Unfortunately, not availing treatment options usually worsens the symptoms. Hence, it does augur well to understand the symptoms for managing children’s anxiety problems. Let’s take a look at various anxiety disorders that my affect children and their apparent signs:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

If a child is suffering from GAD, he or she will fret and fume a lot about a variety of issues, like grades in school, familial problems, peer relationships, performance in sports and much more. When a child is affected by GAD, he might be a little harsh on himself and always aspire for perfectionism. A need for constant approval and reassurance from others is a veritable sign of GAD in children.

Panic disorder

A child may also suffer from panic or anxiety attacks for no reason and usually it happens abruptly. They have this fear of losing control and going crazy, and once an attack takes place, there could be another one within a month.

Social anxiety disorder (SAD)

Even a child may suffer from SAD, which could jeopardize his or her school performance, attendance, ability to mingle with peers and nurture healthy relationships. The disorder is characterized by intense fear of facing public or coming in contact with others.

Separation anxiety disorder

This is a serious problem that could afflict a child. Separation anxiety can occur in children between 18 months and three years old. Though it is normal for children to experience some anxiety when a parent leaves the room, children suffering from separation disorder are greatly distracted by these feelings.

For instance, a child left behind in a daycare may cry for some time, but can get pacified after a while and settle down. But a child suffering from separation anxiety disorder is not easy to handle in such a situation. He or she may create quite a scene by howling, crying and throwing excessive tantrums. At least 4 percent children are afflicted with separation anxiety disorder.

A child may suffer extreme anxiety while away from home or parents when under an attack. Unwillingness to go to school, envisaging bad things about parents and caregivers or imagining vague things, all stem from separation anxiety disorder in a child.

Selective mutism

Sometimes a few parents are taken aback when they receive an unexpected feedback from their children’s teachers in school. A child who appears normal at home and talks incessantly is reported not to speak at all in the class or when expected. This hampers his academics and other developmental areas. In such a condition, a child simply refuses to budge or talk when expected.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Mostly, children are afflicted by OCD around the age of 10, but even children who are two or three years old could be affected by it. They are compelled to indulge in repeated rituals to ease the intrusive thoughts within.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

It usually occurs when somebody witnesses a traumatic life-threatening event and are plagued by the devastating aftereffects. Even children can suffer from PTSD and may have intense fear and anxiety, become emotionally numb, easily irritable, or avoid people, places or activities. Not every child will develop PTSD after a traumatic event, but those who tend to suffer will fairly exhibit symptoms.

Leading a stress-free life

Whenever a child shows signs of anxiety disorder of any kind, there shouldn’t be any delay in seeking treatment, because early intervention holds the key to a permanent cure.