Anxiety Disorders in Children
Anxiety disorders in children are fairly common. During their childhood, most children will experience at least one of the more common fears or anxieties. Starting at a new school taking a subject test are two more common events that a child might be concerned about. These fears do not typically or develop into a panic disorder or become a panic attack or turn irrational. However, there may be other reasons that some children may show signs of a panic disorder.
It is not always possible to protect our children against everything in their life as much as we would like to, they will be exposed to some frightening things and events. Being exposed to these things can lead to some children becoming afflicted with certain types of anxiety disorders that are also demonstrated in adults. Children may display a generalized panic reaction too many things and in a number of ways. Everyday events like things at home or school might cause the child to be extremely worried. Common personal characteristics are that the child tends to be very hard on themselves and they tend to strive for perfection. In pursuit of perfection the child might often redo tasks. Constant reassurance and approval might be sought from others.
Anxiety Disorders in Children – OCD
Another type of anxiety disorder that a child might be plagued with is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is obsessive behaviour or are unwelcome and upsetting images, thoughts or impulses that suddenly just appear uncontrollably in the sufferer’s mind and that cause a high distress or anxiety. Obsessive behaviour is when the child demonstrates strong again uncontrollable, urges to frequently complete ritualistic routines and behaviors in an attempt to ease their anxieties. The disorder can be seen in children as young as two years old; however ten years old the most frequent age at which the child might be diagnosed with OCD. Other signs of OCD in children are the sense of terror that they will unintentionally do something incorrectly, unnecessary hand washing, counting items over and over again and rechecking to block out disturbing thoughts.
Anxiety Disorders in Children – Panic Disorder
Another anxiety disorder that might be displayed in children is a panic disorder. The defining events for a panic disorder diagnosed in children is when they suffer from at least two sudden panic attacks followed by at least one month of deep fear of having another attack. Generally this can be diagnosed in adolescents and is not seen in young children.
Anxiety Disorders in Children – Specific Phobias
Another symptom of an anxiety disorder in children is when they display specific phobias. These specific phobias may be irrational fears towards specific places, objects or situations. The child is believed to have a phobia, if a fear interferes with the child’s daily activities and if it persists for at least six months. Most childhood fears like being fearful of storms, animals or the dark can go away on their own. But phobias might include symptoms such as suffering from a headache, a stomach ache or having a tantrum or alternatively becoming clingy or freezing in place when confronted with the fear and probably will last into adulthood.
Anxiety Disorders in Children – PTSD
Children can also suffer from another type of anxiety disorder called post traumatic stress disorder after witnessing a traumatic incident. This often results from being exposed to an extreme stressor such as a natural disaster, a sudden death of a parent, a physical assault or an accident. The symptoms that might be displayed by these children are of poor sleeping or by not eating, reliving the event through playing or through nightmares, emotional numbing or fear that the event might reoccur.
Both adults and children can exhibit these types of anxiety disorders however, the emotional and the physical indications might be very different. For one, children might not be able to verbalize their sensations and probably do not understand that their fears are irrational. Children believed to have an anxiety disorder should be referred to their regular pediatrician.
An overview of panic attacks and anxiety disorders from here