Pediatric Anxiety Disorders

Topics: Anxiety, Panic disorder, Anxiety disorders Pages: 9 (3216 words) Published: December 7, 2013
Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents

General Psychology
Fall 2013

For those dealing with an anxiety disorder getting help can be difficult for multiple reasons. First, distinguishing between normal and abnormal worries and reactions can be difficult for a person. Once a person has realized they need help they face the reality that mental illness is often stigmatized, causing those suffering to feel ashamed and embarrassed and scared to reach out for help. They worry that others will judge them and deem them incapable of holding certain positions or rolls. When these issues arise in children though, a new world of challenges awaits. A child’s inability to properly communicate their feelings or worries can make distinguishing between normal childhood behavior and an actual anxiety disorder difficult. (Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents, 2012)

Anxiety disorders affect 1 in 8 children. While most children have fears and worries, when these stressors negatively impact the child’s ability to function in the real world professional assistance is often needed. Knowing when to ask for this help is not easily determined. Parents often do not know the signs of a true anxiety disorder, and will often brush it off as normal childhood behavior, believing that the child just needs discipline. They might also worry, that by acknowledging that their child has an anxiety disorder, it means they have parented their child poorly and will be ostracized by family and friends. (Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents, 2012)

Anxiety disorders in children can present themselves in many different ways. These children are often referred to as clingy, shy, or distracted. They might suffer from chronic headaches and stomachaches. A child with an anxiety disorder might start avoiding certain places and activities that they were previously comfortable at or enjoyed. Increased heart and respiration rate is another common symptom in a child with an anxiety disorder that would be more difficult for a parent to notice. These children might also deal with sleep disturbances such as inability to fall asleep, waking throughout the night, or early waking. (Children and Teens | Anxiety and Depression Association of America) Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is a constant, unwarranted fear of past, present, or future events that lasts for more than six months. Children with GAD often worry about things such as school and sports performance, relationships with peers, or natural disasters. They might also worry about more adult problems including money, the safety of their family, or marital problems between their parents. These fears are constantly on a child’s mind and normal reassurance does not help relieve them. (Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder Cumulative and Sequential Comorbidity) A child with Generalized Anxiety Disorder will have several symptoms and traits that can help diagnose the problem. They will seem tense and high strung. They strive for perfectionism, and will often re do assignments and tasks multiple times until they get it perfect. Truancy becomes an issue for these children because their anxiety related to school performance becomes so overwhelming that they have difficulty even going to class. This also carries over to extracurricular activities such as sports and music lessons, things the child previously loved, but are no longer able to do because of debilitating anxiety. (Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder Cumulative and Sequential Comorbidity) There are multiple risk factors for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Parents who have GAD are more likely to have children who also have it. This can be caused by a combination of the genetics that can cause anxiety and the habits children learn from their anxious parents. Children who are already predisposed to be shy or who are vulnerable to bullying tend to have an increase in GAD. O When it...


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