Anxiety in Children

Anxiety in children is not uncommon, in fact some anxiety during childhood and adolescence is the norm rather than the exception. Children have a lot to learn and a lot to explore, and some of that can be stressful. This is part of the learning process and the growing up process and parents and caregivers shouldn’t try to completely protect a child from it, children need to learn to do that themselves. What I am talking about thus far is normal low level anxiety that arises from the everyday harshness of real life.

More of a problem is when children start to experience unreasonable anxiety. Unreasonable anxiety is hard to define, but if it is interfering with education, development or socializing then you can be pretty sure it has gone too far.  Some children can develop phobias of school or of going out alone. These insecurities may manifest as panic attacks or move in different directions like eating disorders or self-harm.

Often childhood anxiety can manifest as irritability, panic attacks, phobias, fear of being alone, difficulty sleeping, bed wetting.

The most important thing to do is to get help. Schools, doctors surgeries and health clinics should all be able to offer advice. If the school has a counseling service then that is a good place to start.

Treatment wise, children are generally not prescribed medication such as SSRI’s or Benzodiazepines unless it’s really necessary. Indeed drugs like prozac may cause psychological symptoms to worsen in children.

Luckily, children are quick learners and can respond well to therapy and counseling, and can be taught to relax.

Lastly, it is important for parents and caregivers to make sure the child feels loved and accepted. This in itself can be a big part of the solution to childhood anxiety.

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