What is Anxiety in Children?

All children experience anxiety at one point or another.  Anxiety in children is expected and normal at specific times in their development.  For example, from approximately age 7 months through the preschool years, healthy youngsters may show intense distress, or anxiety, at times of separation from their parents or other persons with whom they are close.

 

Young children may have short-lived fears, such as fear of the dark, storms or animals.  However, when anxieties become severe and begin to interfere with the daily activities of childhood, such as separating from parents, attending school and making friends, parents should consider seeking the evaluation and advice of a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

 

A child or adolescent with severe separation anxiety may show some of the following symptoms; constant thoughts and fears about safety of self and parents; refusing to go to school; frequent stomachaches and other physical complaints; extreme worries about sleeping away from home; overly clingy behavior at home; and panic or tantrums at times of separation from parents.

 

Anxious children are often overly tense or uptight.  Some may seek a lot of reassurance, and their worries may interfere with activities.  Because anxious children may also be quiet, compliant and eager to please, their difficulties may be missed.  Parents should always be alert to the signs of anxiety.  Severe anxiety problems in children can be treated.  Treatments may include one, or a combination of the following; individual psychotherapy; family therapy; medications; behavioral treatments; and consultation to the school.

 

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