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Anxiety in Children and Teens

Stressful Hispanic Girl

Anxiety is a natural reaction to stressful situations and is is a normal part of childhood. But there are times when your child's reactions to stress are more long term, pervasive, or out of proportion to a situation. In these cases, you may consider whether your child is suffering with an Anxiety Disorder.

Anxiety disorders are not uncommon in children and teens. According to the Mational Institute of Mental Health, approximately 30% of all teens struggle with an anxity disorder. And between 60-80% of all these cases go untreated. Here are some signs that your child may have an anxiety disorder and may need to seek treatment.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Your child may be suffering with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder if they experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Excessive worry about future events
  • Excessive worry about friends, school, or activities
  • Excessive worry about or refusal to sleep away from home
  • Obsessive thinking and fears about the child’s (or the parents' or other significant people's) safety
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Clinging to family
  • Feeling as though there is a lump in the throat
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Frequently complains about stomachaches, headaches, or other physical symptoms
  • Muscle aches or tension
  • Difficulty sleeping/poor sleep habits
  • Lack of concentration
  • Startles easily
  • Irritability
  • Inability to relax

Panic Disorder

Panic attackes are periods of intense fear or discomfort accompanied by physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat or shortness of breath. These attacks often appear seemingly out of the blue. If your child experiences a recurrence of a panic attack or continues to obsess and worry over having another panic attack, he or she may be diagnosed with Panic Disorder.

Symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Intense fearfulness (a sense that something terrible is happening)
  • Racing or pounding heartbeat
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath or a feeling of being smothered
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sense of unreality
  • Fear of dying, losing control, or losing your mind

Phobia

Your child could have an irrational fear about something specific (eg, thunder or heights). This is called a phobia. Phobic Disorders are characterized by the following:

  • Unreasonable or excessive fear
  • The fear instatntly appears in the presence of the feared object or situation
  • Attempts to avoid the fear source or is extemely distressed when having to experience it
  • The phobia seriously impacts your child's family or social life or school or sports performance

If you are not sure if your child has an anxiety disorder, call our office and discuss it with one of our experienced child therapists. We'd be happy to consult with you and help you out. It is important to seek help for your child if you suspect they have an Anxiety Disorder. Our therapists can assess your child's distress to determine the nature of the disorder and develop a treatment plan to help your child. That could include building coping skills, talking through irrational beliefs, working through the fears through play therapy, and/or family therapy.

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Marietta West Cobb Counseling Center, Inc.
707 Whitlock Avenue SW
Marietta, GA 30064
770-415-0880