In today’s fast paced competitive world kids are subject to high levels of stress. Fear and anxiety can be common and developmentally appropriate in most children.
Some of the common problems children face range from starting a new school, fear of natural calamities, social anxiety, fear of being bullied; pressure to succeed academically to several other complicated issues. Although worrying occasionally is normal, the severity and duration of these symptoms seem to be extended in children suffering from anxiety related disorders. If anxiety related disorders are left untreated it can severely impede academic and social progress of the child.
Some red flags of anxiety related disorders commonly observed in children are (a) being overly self-conscious (b) avoidance (c) obsessions (d) low self-esteem (e) extreme fears and being constantly stressed.
Anxiety related disorders can be broadly classified into the following categories namely (a) Separation anxiety (b) Social phobia (c) Generalized anxiety disorder. (d) Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. (e) Post-Traumatic Stress disorder
Separation anxiety is a psychological phenomenon where the child experiences severe anxiety when separated from individuals who have a strong emotional bonding with it. Symptoms of separation anxiety include extreme fear leading to impairment of normal functions, nightmares, and psychosomatic disorders.
Social phobia is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness. When kids suffer from extreme shyness and self consciousness they may dread social situations.
Generalized anxiety disorder is caused by excessive, irrational and uncontrollable worry which manifest in the form of severe physical and psychological symptoms. It is characterized by fatigue, muscle tension, irritability and feeling of dread.
Obsessive-Compulsive disorder is characterized by performing repetitive acts to alleviate anxiety caused by disturbing thoughts or impulses.
Post-Traumatic Stress disorder results in extreme anxiety following a traumatic event.
The cause of anxiety related disorders in children is primarily due to the interaction between certain biological and environmental risk factors. Genetics and parenting style are predisposing factors for developing anxiety related disorders.
Parents should seek immediate medical attention if the duration and severity of anxiety in children does not decrease.Cognitive behavioral therapy can be very effective to shape the thought process and behavioral response to treat anxiety in kids.
Psychotherapy is another form of relaxation techniques that has been found to be highly effective in shaping the kids behavioral response. If none of the above methods seem to work the parents should consult with a medical practitioner regarding use of anti-anxiety medication.
By Priya Kumar