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Child Anxiety Disorders

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 1 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Anxiety Disorder anxiety

In the modern world children are subjected to a variety of stressors each day and often children are unable to adequately cope with the stress and anxieties that fill their heads. As a result of this, anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health issues affecting children today. A variety of anxiety disorders exist, including many specific phobias.

Commonly diagnosed child anxiety disorders include Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Separation Anxiety Disorder.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalised Anxiety Disorder in children is characterised by excessive worry. Children worry about events that took place in the past and events that will take place in the future. They worry about conversations, actions, health, performance at school, performance in after school activities, friendships, and even current affairs. Often these children worry so much that it interferes with their daily lives and their sleeping patterns. Treatment for GAD often focuses on changing negative thoughts into positive thoughts.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterised by consistent obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts that a child does not invite but can not banish, while compulsions are behaviours that a child must perform whether (s)he truly wants to or not. Most often the obsessions and compulsions disrupt a child’s daily life and sleep patterns and are disastrous to a child’s concentration. Treatment for OCD often requires children to face their fears, thus relieving obsessions and behaviour modification to reduce compulsions.

Panic Disorder
Panic Disorder in children is characterised by persistent panic attacks and anxiety about panic attacks. Panic attacks often bring physical symptoms including difficulty breathing, sweating, shaking or trembling, hot flashes, cold flashes, dizziness and more. Due to these symptoms children with Panic Disorder often avoid social situations in case they suffer a panic attack. Treatment for Panic Disorder routinely includes cognitive-behavioural approaches in order to modify associated behaviours.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is present only in those who have suffered through a painful or terrifying ordeal. PTSD is characterised by memories of/flashbacks to the trauma, an emotional numbness, nightmares, anxiety and general fearfulness. Often these emotions are so overwhelming that they can result in a paralysis that wreaks havoc on daily life. Treatment for PTSD often includes counselling to work through emotions and cognitive-behavioural therapy to treat associated behaviours.

Separation Anxiety Disorder
Separation Anxiety Disorder is usually diagnosed in young children who are vehemently opposed to separating from a primary caregiver (often also called an attachment figure). Very often this opposition stems from the child’s anxiety that something bad will happen to him/her or to the primary caregiver during the time that they are separated. These worries may also bring physical symptoms such as upset stomachs, headaches and disturbances to sleep patterns. Treatment for Separation Anxiety Disorder often includes cognitive-behavioural approaches in order to modify thoughts and behaviours.

Anxiety disorders in children are some of the most common mental health diagnoses for those age groups. Many support groups exist for children diagnosed with anxiety disorders, and their families, though a formal diagnosis by a qualified child psychology expert is essential in beginning the treatment process. Further information should be obtained from a GP, professional educator, child psychologist or child psychiatrist.

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Katrina - Your Question:
Hi, my daughter now 10 was born at 29 weeks gestation with 2 areas of brain damage. We was told we wouldn't know how this would effect her until she was older. Me and her father has battled for help since she was 2 as she has had many behaviour problems and learning difficulties but although the school recognise these they promised to help assess her but have left it too late now and are saying it's too late as she will be leaving for secondary school in July. I am so scared she isn't ready for this move in education and I believe it will only make her behaviour worse. She hits herself and says she wants to die, she has meltdowns saying she hates school and has no friends and flips from a very depressed child to one full of hate and anger. She has these twitches in her eye and constant habit of sniffing her hands. The teacher thinks she may also be dyslexic but can't help with it. We seen the health visitor for years and also the doctor who referred us to a children's centre who sent us to speech therapy and then discharged her although nothing got better. She takes things literally, her dad once told her he was going to be picking her up from school, that afternoon when he went to collect her she had a complete meltdown and we found out it was because he didn't actually 'pick' her up in his arms. I feel she has been so let down and I'm at my wits end, I don't know where to turn as everyone we have asked for help fail her.

Our Response:
Try another GP for a second opinion. Write down a list of all the things you've told here before you go in including the brain damage at birth. Also ask for specific help and referral for learning difficulty/SEN assessment. Your local education authority might be better to ask - it seems the school is washing their hands of this as she's due to go to secondary school soon.
KidsBehaviour - 2-Mar-17 @ 2:37 PM
Hi, my daughter now 10 was born at 29 weeks gestation with 2 areas of brain damage. We was told we wouldn't know how this would effect her until she was older. Me and her father has battled for help since she was 2 as she has had many behaviour problems and learning difficulties but although the school recognise these they promised to help assess her but have left it too late now and are saying it's too late as she will be leaving for secondary school in July. I am so scared she isn't ready for this move in education and I believe it will only make her behaviour worse. She hits herself and says she wants to die, she has meltdowns saying she hates school and has no friends and flips from a very depressed child to one full of hate and anger. She has these twitches in her eye and constant habit of sniffing her hands. The teacher thinks she may also be dyslexic but can't help with it. We seen the health visitor for years and also the doctor who referred us to a children's centre who sent us to speech therapy and then discharged her although nothing got better. She takes things literally, her dad once told her he was going to be picking her up from school, that afternoon when he went to collect her she had a complete meltdown and we found out it was because he didn't actually 'pick' her up in his arms. I feel she has been so let down and I'm at my wits end, I don't know where to turn as everyone we have asked for help fail her.
Katrina - 1-Mar-17 @ 2:35 PM
My son is going to be 9, He started having seperation anxiety really bad when it comes to me at age 5,it wasn't so bad until after his sister(my 10 year old daughter)had moved to her dad's,and when she comes home on weekends and all they do is fight and aregue,but he seems less seperation from me and i get some sleep.but once she has to leave,he clings to her leg,cries,screams,beggs to go be with her or tells her to stay,at bed time and throughout the night whether sister is here or at her dads,I'm up all night with him most of the time forcing me to sleep on couch instead of with dad,just so I can get sleep. On daddys nights off I try to go to bed,so I can get sleep before my son wakes up,sometimes daddy will stay up if he can or if when we go to bed together,he always wakes up. My son also shows lots of ODD,Adhd,seperation anxiety,anxiety among peers/public angiety,agressive anger towards himself,his belongings,our belongings,towards others,animals..it's hard to have company as it intensifies it. He tends to be mean,calls us and them names,or play too rough with them. Before he gives hugs to a person he hits them first or is rough about it and almost pushes them over or something..when something goes wrong or someone tells him no or give it back,or put it back he breaks whatever is making him upset or is comepletly mean.. he does after school tutoring at his school for an hour mon-thurs (one on one) and has speech class on Wedwe do homework but it is a struggle to get him to do it,it's a struggle to get him to take a bath,change his clothes,struggle to get him ready for the day.struggle to get him to listen most of the time. When he's excited to do something he likes.he gets himself dressed,.he gets too excited and won't calm down,he even plays rough,even when happy.. he has me stand outside the bathroom while he's using it,he has to always make sure he hears or see's me, he makes me do almost everything for him.except for when he's excited and happy to do whatever it is he is getting to do.that HE actually likes.. he is good and likes math but he hates and refuses to read,and gets frustrated when doing so. I quit reading stuff for him or text something to someone for him when he doesn't show an interest in trying, but I'm all about incouraging him to do things, and help sound out the words,and tell him life is all about trying and when you dont get it the first time,keep trying,ask for help but I will not do it for you,bc you don't learn if I do it for you.. He makes his own microwaveable mac&cheese,corndogs,Roman noodles,pot pies.oatmeal,gets cereal but wont pour his own beverages bc he's afraid of making a mess.. I'm ok with him accidentally making a mess,just try your best to clean it up. He will ask for help on cleaning his room when told to do so,and if I say i can't or won't help him,he then refuses to do it.. when he breaks his things on purpose,we throw it away and don't buy another.unless it's not his that he
Laurab13 - 16-Feb-17 @ 7:47 AM
@Dollydream. It's heartbreaking for you as a mum but you've caught this early and can deal with it. Here are a few suggestions for you:
- Try activities with smaller numbers to start
- Maybe get your son to choose a friend to take with him as well
- Have a word with the activity organisers about it in advance so they're aware of his issues
- Speak to staff at school to see if they have any ideas, they've probably come across this before
-Check out any NHS help that's available
- Or try a support group/advice from an organisation such as Young Minds
KidsBehaviour - 13-Mar-15 @ 11:50 AM
I havea 9 year old son whom has recently told me he doesn't like crowded places and gets over whelmed when in that situation. It has started to affect his social life now though and heis eager to try new things and I take him when we get there he starts to get upset and panic and cries as he says he enjoys the activity but the people there mainly other children make him extremely nervous . He says he likes a one to one though . I am really concerned as I see how much this is ruining his quality of life . I want to help him confront his fears any ideas?
Dolly daydream - 10-Mar-15 @ 9:49 PM
I have a 15 year old daughter with GAD and social phobia. She only goes into school on average 2-3 days a week. She doesn't want to be there at all as this is what causes her the most anxiety. She has a targeted youth support worker and also sees CAMHS once every 2 weeks.they are doing cognitive behavioural therapy with her but she is getting worse. I'm on the verge of home schooling her as being at school is making her worse. Any suggestions will be helpful.
Fifi44 - 24-Jun-14 @ 11:28 AM
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