Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Children

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder
In Children

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) also includes Overanxious Disorder of Childhood (OAD) and when categorized with the other anxiety disorders, is “one of the most frequent forms of child psychopathology, affecting about 10% of young people”, ( Muris Merckelbach, Mayer, and Snieder, 1998). It is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry that must be present for at least six months for the diagnosis to apply. There are several symptoms associated to GAD including: restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge; being easily fatigued; difficulty concentrating or mind going blank; irritability; muscle tension; sleep disturbance. And while at least three of these must be present for a diagnosis of GAD in adults, only one need be present in children or adolescents. One difference between adult GAD and childhood or adolescent GAD is the types of anxieties and concerns that manifest themselves. In adults the worries seem to be more social or occupational. In children or adolescents the anxieties and worries often concern the quality of their performance or competence at school or in sporting events, even when their performance is not being evaluated by others. There may be excessive concerns about punctuality. They may also worry about catastrophic events such as earthquakes or nuclear war. Children with the disorder may be overly conforming, perfectionist, and unsure of themselves and tend to redo tasks because of excessive dissatisfaction with less-than-perfect performance. They are typically overzealous in seeking approval and require excessive reassurance about their performance and their other worries (American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM IV Text Edition 2002). So, while the symptoms may be similar, the issues and events that cause the symptoms can be quite different. Another distinction that exists between childhood...
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