Published on 07 October 2022

Childhood Anxiety Disorders: Symptoms, Treatment Options

Anxiety in Children childhood-anxiety-treatment
Table of Contents

Anxiety is a usual reaction to stress that occurs in adults and children. An Anxiety disorder is a medical situation involving normal, increased stress levels that are challenging to control. It may interrupt a child's ability to engage in everyday activities like school, socializing, or maintaining relationships.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America declares that 25.1% of young individuals between the age of 13 to 18 have an Anxiety disorder. They even mention that kids with untreated Anxiety disorders are more likely to perform poorly in school, miss out on social occasions, and confront substance abuse. To understand this topic, let's dive deep into it.

What Makes Children Anxious?

Different things can make children anxious at different ages. Mostly they worry about their standard parts while growing up. Children of around six months to 3 years will have separation Anxiety. These children become emotional when they are separated from their parents or caregivers. It is considered a normal stage in a child's development and will stop at around 2 to 3 years old.

Preschool-age children will develop specific fears and phobias, such as fear of animals, insects, storms, heights, water, blood, and the dread of the dark. These fears will gradually decrease with time on their own.

Parental rejection may put children at heightened risk of developing Anxiety problems. This Parental authority involves extra control of the child's daily routine, which encourages the child's dependence on parents and instructions about right and wrong. 
One model assumes that parenting is particularly significant, suggesting that parents are the primary socializing agent in early childhood. These early experiences with limited control will contribute to the development of Anxiety symptoms.

What Causes Anxiety Disorder In Children?

Some kids are more anxious and less able to cope with stress than others. This anxiety may cause by various situations, which include.

  • Moving house or school frequently.
  • The argument of parents.
  • The death of a friend or a close relative.  
  • Becoming extraordinarily ill or getting hurt in an accident.
  • School-related problems like exams or bullying.
  • Being abused or ignored

Children with Autistic spectrum disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have problems with anxiety.

Signs and Symptoms

Anxiety disorders in children have been divided into various types, including generalized, separation, social, and specific phobias. Even if other conditions may be evident in different ways, there are some common symptoms:

  • Avoiding certain activities, situations, and people
  • Constantly worrying about what can go wrong in any situation
  • Fears or worries which interfere with their daily routine activities
  • Constant distress, regardless of support given by an adult
  • Trouble falling asleep at night in children
  • Headaches or stomach pain and other physical symptoms

How to Address a Child's Anxiety?

While addressing the child's anxiety, the first step is to acknowledge the child's condition, which can help you to learn more about his problem.

According to Gilboa, "whatever struggles our kids face, we want them to develop positive coping strategies." If parents can name the problem, it becomes easier for them to help their child.

How To Help Your Child At Home?

There are fewer possibilities to clear all bases of anxiety from a child's life. Still, a good approach can help them learn valuable and practical methods to cope with the conditions and activities that cause anxiety. This will not only reduce their levels of stress but also make them stronger to face any situation.

When speaking to a child regarding their anxiety, how an individual pose their queries is vital. Rather than asking whether they are anxious about circumstances, an individual can ask an open-ended question regarding their feelings.

Relational conversations about their problems allow them to feel more in control of their condition and responses. Following are some tips you can use to overcome your child's anxiety. 

  • Guide the child to remember signs of anxiety, including physical symptoms.
  • Attach to familiar routines whenever possible.
  • Rehearse, taking three deep, slow breaths concurrently with the child.
  • For young kids, distraction can benefit them. For example, if a child is anxious about 
    staying with other family members, then playing games such as "I spy" can help.
  • Assemble a "worry box" from an empty shoebox or tissue box where kids can write down their fears and add them to the chest. At last end of the day or week, a caregiver can discuss the child's concerns.
  • Ahead of a significant difference, such as moving or switching schools, give the child time to adapt to the idea and discuss why it is happening.
  • Do brainstorming conversations with them.

When To Visit The Doctor?

If the following symptoms worsen, parents should get professional advice as soon as possible.

  • Bedwetting
  • Mood swings, aggressiveness, crying frequently, increased clinginess, throwing temper tantrums
  • Trouble/complaints about headache, stomach pain
  • Consistently having negative thought patterns and worrying about small things.
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Fear of the dark, being distant from home or interacting with other children of the same age.

How To Prevent Anxiety?

It's not clearly understood why some children evolve anxiety or depression. Numerous factors may play a role, including biology and character. However, some kids are better likely to develop anxiety or depression when they experience stress or trauma, are bullied or abandoned by other children, or when their parents have anxiety or depression.

Although these elements increase the chance of anxiety or depression, there are methods to reduce kids' chances of encountering them. Learn regarding public healthiness approaches to prevent these risks:

What Are The Treatment Options?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is used for children with mild to moderate Anxiety symptoms. Experts recommend CBT and medication for severe Anxiety symptoms. This therapy may be helpful as it will teach different techniques to the children. It will be essential for them now and in the future.

Talk Therapy 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling are effective talk therapies for anxiety in children. This therapy helps children to understand how fear works. If a severe Anxiety issue is not treated on time, it may worsen as time passes. The child will sometimes avoid Anxiety symptoms, but eventually, they will understand that it will be only helpful in reducing anxiety temporarily. 

The CBT therapist will teach the children to unlearn this "avoidant behavior." They will also help the child to identify the triggers and thoughts that cause fear and worry so it would be easy for them to overcome their fear.

Exposure Therapy 

Exposure therapy differs from traditional talk therapy used for childhood Anxiety. In this therapy, the patient and the therapist explore the root causes of anxiety. This therapy works best in changing the behavior to eliminate the fear. It is an acceptable form of therapy to treat different kinds of Anxieties, including separation anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and Social Anxiety.

Intensive Treatment

In intensive treatment, the therapist will take sessions that may last several hours, several days a week, and for 3-6 weeks. Evidence suggests that progress may get faster if a timetable is made in advance, especially when parents are part of the treatment. When intensive therapy is performed, you can briefly get a whole course of treatment and get the children in control of their lives. 


Children who are struggling with anxiety are used prescribed anxiety medication or therapy. This therapy usually helps children to cope with stress. Antidepressant medications are common treatments for anxiety. (SSRIs) is used to treat one of the options for childhood Anxiety.

They work by increasing the chemical serotonin levels in the brain, increasing happiness and well-being, and reducing anxiety symptoms.

Doctors recommend benzodiazepines for a child with severe anxiety. They may become addictive and must be prescribed on a short-term basis.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solution

Parents must visit the doctor or a therapist if they show symptoms like changed appetite, mood swings, bedwetting, and other symptoms mentioned above. In severe cases, children with anxiety may require psychological treatment and medications.

You can help your children at home by making them recognize the signs of anxiety, including physical symptoms, by following regular routines whenever possible, and by practicing taking three deep, slow breaths with the child. Techniques like this can help your child to deal with anxiety.

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