Studies show that one out of four Australians will suffer from an anxiety disorder during their life; sometimes it can begin as anxiety in kids.
All children worry and get anxious from time to time. But when it becomes recurrent and prevents them from trying new things and broadening their horizons, then it is important to make a diagnosis and treat the condition with appropriate therapy.
There may be different triggers to anxiety:
- Fear of being separated from a loved one;
- Fear of social situations;
- Fear of specific things like spiders, snakes, etc.
Physical signs that may indicate your child is feeling anxious include fatigue, chest pain, difficulty breathing, sweating, sore muscles, difficulties in sleeping, and difficulty in concentrating on a task. There are also some behavioural symptoms of anxiety such as refusing to go to school, being clingy, being in need of reassurance, and tantrums.
Anxiety is also common in children diagnosed with Autism and Asperger syndrome (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
Diagnosing Anxiety in Kids
When anxiety becomes problematic in a child’s life, one of the following diagnoses may apply:
- General Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Children worry about a variety of things in their lives; they may fear about their parents’ health, or the financial situation of the family. They also seek reassurance; they may be afraid of unfamiliar situations and often complain of feeling sick.
- Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder: This may be the case when children experience anxiety symptoms in the absence of any external threat.
- Obsessional Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Children and teenagers will most likely experience persistent, intrusive and unwanted thoughts and impulses. For example, fear of harming others, excessive hand washing, etc.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This condition may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, serious injury or the threat of death. Children are less likely to experience PTSD after trauma than adults, especially if they are under 10 years of age.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is highly effective with anxiety in kids. It helps them to change their thinking, and better manage their feelings. Other therapies like Behaviour Therapy or Parental Anxiety Management (PAM), relaxation techniques and psycho-education can also be used.
Treatment options are discussed with the parent/caregivers after the initial assessment.
So do not wait any longer, book an appointment and help your child to overcome anxiety today!
Author: Meggy Delaunay, PG Dip Psych Practice, PG Dip Dev Psych, M Genetic Psych, B Psych, MAPS.
Meggy Delaunay is a psychologist who primarily works with children, adolescents and young adults. She is a registered Psychologist in Australia, New Zealand and France, and can provide therapy sessions in English and French.
Please call 1800 877 924 to make an appointment or book online now!