Anxiety Q & A
What degree of anxiety is normal in children?
Some types of anxiety are completely normal in children and are part of normal development. For example, toddlers may suffer from anxiety when being separated from parents, or adolescents may have anxiety regarding fitting in with the social cliques at their school. Children often have some degree of anxiety regarding major events like natural disasters, death, and injury. While it is normal to have anxiety, the degree, and duration of the anxiety can differentiate normal anxiety from an anxiety disorder. When anxiety does not abate with time, or when the anxiety is severe enough to keep a child from living their daily life, it may have crossed the line into an anxiety disorder. Only an experienced clinician can determine whether the anxiety is normal or whether it requires treatment.
What are the symptoms of anxiety in children?
The symptoms of anxiety can vary widely since there are so many different anxiety disorders. In many cases, a child may talk about the cause of their anxiety frequently, without realizing that their anxiety is unusual or unreasonable. Children who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder will often show anxiety about multiple things. For example, they may often have anxiety about family dynamics, school grades, illness, natural disasters, and more all at the same time. Children who have Separation Anxiety may become very upset or even hysterical when separated from their parents. Children with specific phobias may have extreme anxiety about specific things; for example, a child may have extreme anxiety regarding spiders.
How are anxiety disorders in children treated?
Psychotherapy is often the first type of treatment for children who suffer from anxiety disorders. Some children may also benefit from the use of prescription medication. The most successful treatment plan will involve not only the child but also a supportive family.