KDKA video clip on child anxiety presented by Dr. Jennifer Silk:
What is Anxiety?
Most children feel nervous or shy at times, and all children have unique temperaments and personality styles. However, normal childhood worrying becomes a concern when it causes impairment or significant distress to the child and happens frequently in a number of settings.
A child who suffers from anxiety may show some or all of the following symptoms, many days throughout the week:
- Excessive worry or fears about a number of events or activities (usually including worries about future events)
- Worry is very difficult for child to control
- Excessive concern about separation from home or parent (may include trouble sleeping alone or away from home)
- Physical complaints such as headaches, stomachaches, or nausea.
- Trouble falling or staying asleep due to worries or feeling “keyed up”
- Intense fear of social or performance situations such as talking in front of a group, performing on stage, or meeting new children or adults
Anxiety is one of the most common childhood psychological disorders, affecting between 10 to 20 percent of kids. Sub-types of anxiety include, Separation Anxiety, Social Phobia, and Specific Phobias. Anxiety disorders often go “hand in hand” (or co-occur) with other disorders such as depression or ADHD. Two or more types of anxiety problems may overlap (eg. Generalized Anxiety in combination with Social Phobia).
A child's problematic anxiety can go unnoticed because they are often good students who excel academically and do not have “problem behaviors”. However, anxiety can be debilitating and distressing, both socially and emotionally. Research shows that untreated anxiety may become more severe or be more likely to develop into depression later in life.
The main treatments available are medications that act on the brain (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors like Zoloft) and talk therapies such as “cognitive behavioral therapy,” and “child centered therapy”. Both treatments are shown to be effective in children, but results vary depending on the individual.