Anxiety disorder in kids – The symptoms, causes, and how to treat it
Guest post by Ralph Macey, Marketing Officer at Savant Care (The site is restricted to the US demographics only)
Being a little anxious is normal for everyone. It is a part of the human instinct through which we all survive. It normally happens when people face a difficult situation or threat, and the mind and the entire body react to that situation by shifting into safety mode. People may feel a sudden adrenaline rush which may help them to escape the situation.
It’s also not abnormal for kids, especially young ones, to experience anxiety. But it is quite confusing to understand when anxiety is becoming a problem for your kids. Like adults, kids will also show signs of anxiety, but differently. You might notice a few negative behaviors in them initially, which aren’t properly diagnosed as anxiety. It is because your kids won’t be able to realize what anxiety is, due to their young age.
As per a study conducted in 2018, it was estimated that nearly 2 million American kids and adolescents were facing severe anxiety disorder. It is because today’s kids not only face the pressure of the school curriculum, but also tackle social situations, family issues, and also the worst of all…COVID-19 pandemic. It is quite natural that your preschooler or grade-schooler may be struggling with anxiety.
Anxiety disorder in kids
Types of anxiety
The 6 most common anxiety issues that can be seen in your kids are:
● Phobia – Fear about objects, situations, emotion, animals, or specific humans
● Social phobia – High levels of shyness and fears while interacting with people
● Generalized anxiety disorder – Having excessive and unreasonable worries about certain things in life
● Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Normally caused after a traumatic event, or a life-threatening event, or seeing extreme violence
● Separation anxiety disorder – Experiencing Fear and Distress After Getting Separated From a Loved One
● Obsessive-compulsive disorder – Kids may show signs of unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to compulsive behaviors.
But how do you identify that your kids are experiencing such anxiety? Here are some symptoms that you may notice in your kids.
Symptoms of anxiety in kids
Practically, there are 3 types of symptoms that can be visible in your kids. They are as follows:
● Insomnia or too much sleep
● Having sudden headaches, stomach aches, or chest pains.
● Frequent urination at home but less outside the house
● Not having food outside of the house, even at school
● Sweating too much, without any reason
● Sudden shaking, even when with family or friends
● Having problem in breathing
● Being hyperactive or too tired easily
● Getting too much sensitive
● Having panic attacks
● Crying without any reason
● Feeling shy
● Anger and aggression
● Prone to make silly mistakes
● Lack of focus or concentration in any task
● Worried on upcoming things, such as exam results.
● Getting scared outside the home, especially at daycare, school, or other places with lots of people.
● Specific phobias in the dark: dogs, injections, being alone, germs, tests
● Having nightmares about losing loved ones.
● Breaking things in anger
● Avoid signing up for extra activities in school
● Remains silent or preoccupied when expected to work with others
● Refuses to go to school.
● Showing constant tantrums
● Staying isolated most of the time.
● Avoids social mixing, even with old friends
● Experience meltdowns
● Easily getting provoked
● OCD tendencies such as constantly washing their hands or checking things repeatedly
Now, these are the symptoms that may indicate that your kids may suffer from anxiety. But it also generates another important question.
Why do kids have anxiety?
Some kids may show signs of anxiety sooner as they are less able to handle stress compared to other kids. Most of the time kids may develop anxiety after a few stressful events in their lives, such as:
● Relationships between parents and young teens (The site is restricted to the US demographics only)
● Parents having arguments and often fighting in front of the kids
● The loss of dear ones, especially grandparents who are truly attached to kids from the very beginning.
● Experiencing a serious health issue, or a severe accident
● Extreme academical pressure from school
● Getting bullied by schoolmates, friends, or cousins
● Frequently moving from place to place, causes a change in house or school
● Being abused or neglected by parents
● Kids raised by foster parents
Kids with deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) are more likely to face problems with anxiety.
How to treat anxiety disorders in kids
You should keep an eye on your kids and monitor their behavior. If you notice any signs of anxiety or any rapid changes in physical or mental health, then start taking necessary measures to stop them from developing an anxiety disorder. You should immediately consult an expert on mental health and take suggestions. Typically, any professional mental health counselor will suggest treatment after considering your child’s age and the cause of anxiety. With proper counseling, your kids mayrealize what’s making them anxious and they can start fighting the situation.
Your mental health expert may suggest cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help your kids regarding their anxiety. Through this therapy, they may change the thinking pattern and behavior of your kid.
Anxiety medicines can be given to your kids if only your doctor thinks it is necessary and prescribed them.
Apart from that, you may also need to follow some steps to help your kids. First of all, make your kids comfortable at home. Always try to stay calm in front of your kids. You may face many difficult situations and handle them peacefully. But if you react wrongly and show aggression or frustration. your kids will also follow you and react the same. It will only increase their anxiety and stress. Avoid being hyper and teach your kids how to solve any problem instead of thinking about it again and again. Convey positive emotions into them.
You may teach them healthy living habits. Proper sleep habits can reduce insomnia or oversleeping issues. As a result, it will affect anxiety too. Encourage your kids to eat healthy and fresh, especially green veggies and fruits. Do not forget to guide them about cleanliness and maintaining personal hygiene.
As anxiety is a mental condition, you should teach your kids to keep their minds healthy and fit, to avoid such situations. For that reason, daily exercising and meditation are important. It will keep your kids physically fit and mentally strong.
During this pandemic, people are isolated in their houses. So, by using modern techs, like smartphones or computers, help your kids to reach their friends, relatives, and teachers. Spend quality time with them as much as possible. It will build up a strong positive environment that will keep anxiety and stress away from them.