Understanding the Child with Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Posted on: Mar 15 2019
Most children experience a certain amount of anxiety during childhood. Reaction to loud noises or storms, strangers, or brief separation anxiety is considered normal developmental events. However, if anxiety becomes a consistent state of being and travels through several areas of a child’s life, such as sports, health, and school, there could be something more going on. Consistent anxiety may indicate a generalized anxiety disorder.
According to research, 5 to 10 percent of children have a diagnosable anxiety disorder and anxiety disorders affect 30 percent of adolescents! Indicators that a child may need help managing their mental health include unrealistic fear or worry about the usual aspects of life, such as going to school or managing social relationships. A child with a generalized anxiety disorder may demonstrate fatigue, irritability, and restlessness. They may have difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and frequent stomach aches. Although it is possible for a child to recognize the exaggerated nature of their stress response, they may not be able to manage it.
If symptoms continue for more than six months or they inhibit healthy development, it is wise to obtain an assessment from a trained child and adolescent psychiatrist. Research shows that children and adolescents with untreated anxiety disorders are at higher risk for poor academic functioning, impaired social development, and substance abuse. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable and with appropriate care, children can get back on track toward a healthy, vibrant life.
Treatment for Childhood Generalized Anxiety Disorder
There is no singular form of treatment for mental health conditions in children or in adults. Every person is treated based on their unique situation. Some of the techniques for addressing anxiety in children include:
- Therapy: Counseling services for children revolve around creating a safe space in which the child can share feelings, identify fears, and develop relaxation techniques and coping skills to manage their well-being.
- Medication: As an experienced child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Stull understands the nature of anxiety and how this condition relates to neurotransmitters in the brain. For severe anxiety that is disrupting the quality of life, medication may be prescribed to encourage more efficient communication between receptors in the brain.
In addition to professional therapeutic treatment, families can support children with generalized anxiety disorder by educating themselves about symptoms and coping mechanisms like staying connected to close friends and family.
The signs of generalized anxiety disorder may look different in every child. Some may be shy or motivated to please while others may demonstrate behavioral challenges like irritability and oppositionality. Together, we can discover what may be affecting your child and how to help them engage in their life in the healthiest possible way.
Call 630-325-4899 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Stull.
Posted in: Anxiety Disorder