Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Children

Children are not exempt from anxiety or even a major anxiety disorder. While it is true that adults have all the responsibilities and teens have all the pressures, children can also worry to an excessive degree about a number of issues. Generalized anxiety disorder in children is characterized by their worrying about small things such as past conversations or incidents as well as upcoming events or schoolwork.

All of the major anxiety disorders that affect adults and teenagers can likewise affect children. These might include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, phobias, social phobia and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms in Children

As well as worrying themselves about seemingly trivial issues, children who have generalized anxiety disorder also worry about many large issues that are only irrational because of their lack of control over matters. Many children have been known to worry about world events, their health or that of their family, and other very “grown up” things to fret about.

This is somewhat unusual, although it is also indicative of a very intelligent and imaginative youngster. However, there is nothing cute about the amount of anxiety that such obsessive thoughts can bring. You cannot ignore the fact that your child is in pain and that such emotional turbulence could even lead to physical problems later in life.

Symptoms of a child's anxiety disorder might be manifested in such behaviors as restlessness, fatigue, difficulty in concentration, irritability and insomnia. Unlike communicating with a teenager, a young child will not likely understand the concept of an anxiety disorder, so it will be up to you to determine the best course of action.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis and Therapy

Never assume however that because a child may have an anxiety disorder that he should be immediately prescribed a bottle of Xanax. The best treatment is to visit a pediatrician and find out if medicine is the absolute last resort. There may be other ways of dealing with the problem whether through psychotherapy or alternative methods such as relaxation and positive self talk.

Just because they may not initially understand the meaning of an anxiety disorder does not mean you should hide the truth from them. Knowing their problem after an official diagnosis and learning solutions can be just as effective as medication without the threat of addiction.

Another type of child anxiety disorder is called selective mutism. This is when a child refuses or is unable to speak in a specific situation where speaking is expected of him or her. This often happens despite the child's ability to speak elsewhere under slightly different circumstances. This is not always an indicator of “bratty” behavior; it very well could be anxiety issues, so never assume the worst and discipline a child for what may be uncontrollable.

This type of anxiety disorder is treated after a professional evaluation. It is important for a doctor to get not only a thorough medical history and social evaluation, but also to get a good sense of the child's speech behavior for effective diagnosis. The doctor may also wish to see how the family reacts to the child's speaking to see if there are any issues there. Some techniques in therapy include positive reinforcement, role playing, teacher involvement and relaxation training.

Generalized anxiety disorder in children is treatable without the use of prescription medications. Rid a young mind of excessive anxiety not imagination.

Page Updated: November 11, 2016
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