Anxiety Disorders can interfere with a person’s everyday life to a point where they can not function normally. What happens when your child begins to experience anxiety and does not know how to communicate this to you as a parent? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Symptoms of an anxiety disorder in a child differ from an adult, being that children become irritable, sleepless, jittery and can develop headaches and stomachaches. What may seem like a normal bad mood to you as a parent, may actually be an anxiety disorder.
An anxiety disorder can hold your child back academically, socially, and cognitively. Children with anxiety disorders have fears of raising their hand in class, giving the wrong answer to a question, or even miscommunicating. Socially it is difficult for a child with an anxiety disorder to make friends. They carry feelings of shame and fear with them, constantly feeling alone. This can cause children to engage in substance abuse of all sorts, and even develop into other disorders like depression, ADHD, and eating disorders. Children use cognitive ability to tie thoughts together. When a child is distracted from his train of thought because of a fear or anxious thought occupying his brain, he can not comprehend or process what is being told to him or what he was meant to be doing at that moment. If not treated properly a child’s anxiety disorder can manifest into a major part of the child’s life.
Research has shown that anxiety disorders can stem from environmental causes such as stressful events or emotional situations, and biological causes such as allergies, diabetes, or family history. Phobias, a form of anxiety, are common in children at a young age. After a few months they tend to disappear, but in cases where they don’t, and those fears extend to affect the child’s everyday life, they should be treated by a professional.
Experts recommend having your child treated through either cognitive-behavioral therapy or medication. Each child on an individual level may respond differently to each treatment. Response to treatment is likely to change over time. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy works to identify anxiety and replace it with positive thinking and behavior. The techniques practices in CBT are ones that should be supported and enforced by parents as well in order to ensure both therapist and parents are working together as a team to help alleviate the child’s anxiety. Medication is also another option to treat anxiety disorders. Medication is mainly used along with therapy and can be either a short or long term option. Please check with your therapist before medical treatment.
Children are the future. We must care for them properly. As a parent we urge you to take mental health seriously for your children. If you feel there is a reason to see a professional please do not hesitate.