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Anxiety in Children: Recognizing the Signs Early

Anxiety in Children:  Recognizing the Signs Early


Anxiety in Children:  Recognizing the Signs Early


Everyone experiences some amount of anxiety from time to time.  Children feel it too in certain situations, such as before or during important school examinations or relocating to a new place.  Some experiences can trigger normal anxiety and can even motivate, stay alert, help them focus, prepare them to do their best, or to react safely to various situations.  Anxiety may be an unpleasant emotion, but it is a necessary feeling that can help young people prepare in managing challenging circumstances and disturbing life experiences while growing up.

Anxiety is useful in some situations, some of the time.  It can, however, overwhelm a child when it becomes too strong or happens frequently.  When a child’s reaction seems out of proportion to the present situation, anxiety can interfere with their normal functioning and affect his or her quality of life and happiness.  As a parent, how do you know if the signs you are seeing in your child are more than the normal fear or phobia?  When do you decide if the symptoms qualify as an anxiety disorder and merit professional intervention?


Identifying the Possible Causes of Anxiety Disorders in Children

Childhood anxiety disorders are named as the most common type of psychological health issue in children.  Numerous studies worldwide reveal that the prevalence of impairing childhood anxiety disorders is greater than 10 percent.  There are no known exact causes of anxiety disorders.  Experts believe the condition is brought on by a several factors, including genetics, brain biochemistry, intense fight-flight response, significant life circumstances, and acquired behavior learned from their environment.

Children born to parents with an anxiety disorder are at higher risk for developing the condition. Although the mechanism for this association is vague, both genetic factors that can affect brain chemistry and the regulation of neurotransmitters, and family environment (parenting style and parent-child interactions) have been implicated to play a role. Anxiety in children tends to exacerbate if they have overprotective parents.

In some cases, major life events, such as the death of a loved one or parents’ divorce may also set the stage for childhood anxiety disorders. Growing up in an excessively-controlled environment or experiencing some forms of abuse can “impart” to the child the notion that the world is not a safe place. A child living amidst violence in the family or the community may always feel fearful or expect nothing but the worst to happen anytime.


Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms

It is normal and understandable for children to feel anxious, embarrassed, panicked or scared at times.  It is, however, alarming if the severity of the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders cross the border of what is normal and natural.

There are several types of anxiety disorders a child may experience; some more common than others, such as separation anxiety and post-traumatic disorder. The signs are specific to the type of anxiety disorders, which may appear around the age of six.  There are, however, general symptoms that can warn you that your child is anxious. These include:

  • Unrealistic or exaggerated worry most of the time
  • Fatigue or restlessness during waking hours
  • Sleeping problem at night or drowsiness during the day
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor academic performance
  • Muscle tension
  • Heart palpitations
  • Withdrawing socially from family and peers
  • Hypersensitivity to criticisms


Without proper treatment, childhood anxiety disorders can lead to severe adult anxiety and place children at higher risks for other problems; such as depression, poor life-skills, low self-esteem, academic problems, worsening physical health, interpersonal relationship challenges, and substance abuse.


Finding Early Treatment for Your Child’s Fears and Worries

Unfortunately, despite the common and uncommon signs of child anxiety, 80 percent of children with the condition do not receive appropriate treatment.  The reason may be the customary, yet inaccurate belief that the psychological health issue is developmentally normal, a fleeting phase, and something harmless.  With undeveloped communication skills, a child struggling with anxiety may not be able to express his or her feelings for fear of being misunderstood or judged.

If you notice one or more of the general manifestations of anxiety disorders in your child, take heed.  The signs and symptoms of anxiety demand prompt action for your child’s welfare.  Like other psychological health conditions, anxiety disorders tend to be chronic, but they can be properly treated.  Most anxious children get better when help is provided early.

Help your child find relief from the troubling fears that are affecting his or her childhood.  Now more than ever, it is important to know about anxiety to help improve your child’s condition. More importantly, get with the right fit professional, independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC.  They will evaluate, diagnose and tailor a treatment plan for your child’s anxiety.  With the right care and treatment, your child can overcome anxiety and face the adult years head on. Schedule an appointment by calling, texting, or emailing CCS – Pittsboro NC today!


Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC

Counties: Chatham, Alamance, Durham, Harnett, Lee, Moore, Orange, Randolph, Wake, NC
Areas: Pittsboro NC, Gulf NC, Hickory Mountain NC, Hadley NC, Siler City NC, Wilsonville NC, Fearrington NC, Mandale NC, Bear Creek NC, Albright NC
Zip Codes: 27312, 27344, 27207, 27228, 27256, 27559


Gail Gustafson, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 9+) Adolescents and Adults, Individuals, Couples and Families. PTSD/Trauma, EMDR, Adoption, Drug/Alcohol/Substance Abuse addiction, Anxiety, Depression, Bi-polar, Life Transitions, Grief and Loss, Parenting, Family, couples and marriage counseling.
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare/ Tricare Prime Tricare Select/Extra/Retired and Cash (Credit Cards Accepted, HSA and FSA )
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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68 Fayetteville St.
Pittsboro, NC 27312

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