Anxiety related disorders are one of the most prevalent psychiatric problems that affect children and unfortunately many of these children do not receive the help that they need. According to research by the National Institute of Health, prevalence rates of childhood anxiety disorders are greater than 10% and are predictive of anxiety disorders in adulthood. In addition, childhood anxiety is associated with other psychiatric and behavioral problems, including depression and substance abuse in adolescence. Early childhood anxiety symptoms may often be ignored compared to children with other psychiatric problems because some of their worries may often be confused with developmentally appropriate fears that most children “grow out of.”
Similar to adults, significant anxiety problems may manifest in various ways. For instance, children with generalized anxiety disorder experience worries that they cannot control even when there is no triggering event, which interferes with their daily lives. Children with social phobia constantly fear that they will be humiliated and try to avoid social situations. When children experience significant distress and are unwilling to separate from parents, they are most likely experiencing separation anxiety disorder. Other anxiety related disorders that affect children include specific phobia, selective mutism, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
A full evaluation by a professional may be required to appropriately differentiate between symptoms of childhood anxiety. Specifically, an evaluation will identify key differences in symptom presentation, including related life stressors, duration of symptoms, and treatment needs. Therapy focused on cognitive and behavioral interventions could help children develop skills to manage their symptoms and ultimately improve their social and academic functioning. It is important not to let these children go unnoticed, as childhood anxiety that goes untreated could lead to future difficulties coping with stressful situations throughout adolescence and adulthood.
Children with Anxiety can get help from Dr. Elsa M. Orlandini and her experienced psychologists and therapists of Miami Psychology Group. If you are a parent of a child who has anxiety problems and needs help, please contact Dr. Elsa M. Orlandini and the licensed psychologists and therapists of Miami Psychology Group.