Watching a child struggle with anxiety can be very difficult for parents. Anxiety may begin to mask their perception and convince them that their child is already psychologically or emotionally impaired. Many parents find it helpful to keep track of the child’s accomplishments and abilities so that they don’t begin thinking of their child as overly anxious and fearful. Instead they can recognize what abilities their child has that might be useful in dealing with anxiety.
A little anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it can even be used to help motivate a person. Being aware of one’s anxiety can also help a person better respond to danger. All children experience anxiety. Anxiety in children is expected and normal at specific times in development. For example, from around 8 months through the preschool years, healthy youngsters may show intense distress (anxiety) at times when they are separated from their parents or other persons with whom they are close. Anxious children are often overly tense or uptight. Some may seek a lot of reassurance, and their worries may interfere with activities.
There are different types of child anxiety. The type of Anxiety disorder that is very common among children is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is defined as chronic, excessive worry and fear that seems to have no real cause. Children with GAD often worry a lot about things such as future events, past behaviors, social acceptance, family matters, relationship, their personal abilities, and/or school performance. Although younger children can show signs of excessive worry, children usually develop GAD at about 12 years old. Studies also revealed that many children with GAD also have other anxiety problems. The most common of are; social anxiety, depression, separation anxiety, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Worrying too much about things before they actually happen or being too concerned about friends, school or activities are the most common symptoms of GAD. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. It may also include:constant thoughts and fears about safety of self , safety of parents, refusing to go to school frequent, stomach aches, headaches, or other physical complaints. Muscle aches, tension sleep disturbance, excessive worry about sleeping away from home, clingy behavior with family members, feeling as though there is a lump in the throat, fatigue, lack of concentration, being easily startled, irritability, inability to relax.
Several anxiety medications are available for the effective treatment of GAD. A few of these medications include Zoloft, Paxil, Xanax, and Prozac. All of these medications are known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These medications are all fairly new anti-depressants and have very little side effects. When a child takes any of these drugs, he or she may experience overly nervous at first. However, after several weeks the feeling typically fades away. Some side consequences of anti-depressants that children may experience are: sleepiness, tiredness, and confusion. These medications should only be taken after consultation with the child’s physician.
A physician’s decision on what medications to be taken by a child depends on the child’s physical structure, blood chemistry, as well as how severe the child’s anxiety is.Parents should not discount a child’s fears. Aside from the symptoms mentioned above, anxious children may also be quiet, compliant and eager to please, thus their difficulties may be missed. Parents should always be alert to the signs of severe anxiety so they can intervene early to prevent future complications.