How To Distinguish Normal Childhood Anxiety From An Anxiety Disorder

Health & Medical Blog

You may be surprised to learn that children of any age can suffer from depression and anxiety disorders. In fact, children who are only a couple of years old can suffer from clinical depression and anxiety. Children can also develop a wide range of anxiety disorders that are usually associated with adults, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder. Children are also prone to anxiety disorders that often show up in childhood, such as separation anxiety disorder and select mutism. 

While all children experience anxiety to a certain degree, not all children suffer from an anxiety disorder. Therefore, it's your job as a parent to look for signs of excessive anxiety in your children and seek medical help if you feel they have more anxiety than normal. Following are three ways to distinguish normal childhood anxiety from an anxiety disorder. 

Over-the-Top Behaviors

Since children do not experience or handle emotions quite the same way as adults, their symptoms of anxiety differ from those experienced by adults. In most cases, childhood anxiety shows up as unwanted behavioral issues. If your child displays any of the following behaviors, they may have an anxiety disorder. 

  • Constant or unreasonable anger
  • Ritualistic behaviors, such as obsessively washing hands
  • Excessive shyness, muteness
  • Avoidance of situations
  • Crying and tantrums
  • Constant complaints of physical ailments, such as stomachache and headache

Anxiety Affects Enjoyment of Life

If your child has trouble enjoying certain activities or does not live life to the fullest due to unreasonable fears, they may have an anxiety disorder. For example, a child who worries obsessively over whether or not other children will talk to them at an upcoming social function may have social anxiety. Some children with anxiety disorders are terrified of animals. Others are afraid of being alone. 

Trouble in School or with Peers

Children with anxiety disorders often have difficulty concentrating in school and getting along with other children. If your child's school performance decreases or if they start getting into fights, they may be acting out because they feel intensely anxious most of the time. Do not assume that a child is being willful or stubborn. There are often underlying causes for behavioral issues, such as anxiety. 

If you are worried that your child is suffering from a childhood anxiety disorder, have them seen by a family doctor at right away. There are reliable treatments for anxiety disorders; your child doesn't have to live in fear.


16 April 2015

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