Recognizing the Signs of Child Anxiety Disorders


Most people associate stress and anxiety with adults rather than children. The truth is that children and adolescents are susceptible to all of the same anxiety disorders that can impact adults. What’s more, experts believe that child anxiety disorders often go unreported and undiagnosed precisely because people don’t expect children to suffer from stress. How would you know if your child was suffering from an anxiety disorder? Only a psychiatrist can determine whether or not your son or daughter is suffering from child anxiety. However, learning a little more about child anxiety disorders might help you to recognize any worrying symptoms.

Separation Anxiety Disorder in Children

Separation Anxiety Disorder usually impacts younger children. A child who suffers from separation anxiety will not want to be parted from a certain individual or individuals. The idea of having to separate from the attachment figure results in stress and anxiety for the child. For example, the child might get very upset each morning when his father leaves for work. A child with separation anxiety may also worry excessively about his own wellbeing and that of his parents or guardians. Physical symptoms of separation anxiety include stomachache, vomiting, nausea, sweating, nightmares, headaches and trembling.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Children

A child with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder will suffer from imposing thoughts and feel compelled to repeat ritualistic actions. These thoughts and behaviors will take up time and interrupt the child’s daily routine. Anxiety results because the child feels that the thoughts and impulses are wrong and inapt. You may notice a child with OCD repeat a certain behavior such as hand washing, checking, or counting objects. The ritualistic behaviors are typically lengthy, so a child with OCD might perform poorly at school.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Children

If your child has Generalized Anxiety Disorder, you might notice that he worries excessively about a number of different things. Your child’s concerns could be about things that have happened in the past, or may happen at a later date. Children with GAD can feel anxious about things that seem silly, and they worry to the extent that it impacts their daily lives. The symptoms of GAD include agitation, exhaustion, insomnia, tetchiness and difficultly focusing.

Children and PTSD

Children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have usually lived through a very distressing experience. For instance, the experience of being in a violent car crash could cause PTSD. PTSD sufferers re-experience the traumatic event repeatedly in their minds. They often try to avoid people, places, situations and objects that remind them of the traumatic event. The symptoms of PTSD include distress, vulnerability, fear, apprehension, fretfulness, insomnia and nightmares.

Treatment of Child Anxiety

The treatment of child anxiety varies according to the disorder. It usually involves cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions with a psychiatrist. If you think your child may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, make an appointment with his general practitioner. The general practitioner will determine whether or not your child needs further assessment.