Types of Anxiety Disorders in Children | Revere Health

As children grow and learn about the world around them, it is not uncommon for them to develop worries, fears and anxious thoughts about potential dangers, loss, safety and even death. Although experiencing some anxiety is a perfectly normal part of growing up, anxiety that becomes overwhelming and debilitating can negatively impact a child’s performance in school, relationships with friends and family and even his or her physical well-being. If you suspect that your child has an anxiety disorder, it’s important that you do what you can to better understand the triggers so that you can better help your child manage the condition.

Types of Pediatric Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety looks different in everyone and can result from different factors. By understanding the cause of your child’s worries, you can pinpoint the type of anxiety he or she has and identify an effective course of treatment. Common types of childhood anxiety disorders include the following:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: GAD causes children to worry over a lot of things on a daily basis. For children with this particular disorder, everything from homework to recess to riding the bus to going to birthday parties is cause for concern. GAD also causes unnecessary fears regarding the safety and health of loved ones. This condition makes it difficult for children to focus in school or to simply relax and enjoy life.
  • Social Phobia Disorder: Children with social phobia disorder tend to be afraid of what others will think or say about them. They worry constantly about doing something embarrassing, and they don’t like being the center of attention. To avoid drawing attention to him or herself, a child with this particular type of anxiety may refrain from raising his or her hand in class, participating in group activities or joining in extracurriculars. If a child does participate, he or she may feel jumpy, short of breath, lightheaded or flush.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: It’s normal for young children to feel a sense of fear the first few times they are apart from their parents. However, when children don’t outgrow that fear, it’s called separation anxiety disorder, or SAD. Children with SAD frequently miss school, turn down invitations to sleep overs, cling to their parents, cry when forced to go anywhere they’re not and have trouble sleeping at night.

There are a few other types of anxiety that children may deal with, but GAD, social phobia and SAD are the three most common pediatric anxiety disorders.

Treatments for Anxiety Disorder in Children

Because there are several types of anxiety disorders, obtaining an accurate diagnosis is the first step toward helping your child overcome his or her fears. Once a diagnosis exists, your child’s provider will devise a treatment plan, which will likely include cognitive behavioral therapy. Some children also need medication. A doctor may only prescribe medication if CBT and other therapeutic intervention is ineffective and/or if your child’s anxiety is affecting his or her ability to function.

The Incidence Rate of Childhood Anxiety Disorder

Childhood anxiety is the most common type of psychiatric disorder in children. The prevalence rate is greater than 10 percent. Four major studies conclude that it’s higher, between 12 and 20 percent. Though common, it should not be treated lightly. If your child demonstrates excessive and overwhelming fears, talk to your doctor about obtaining a diagnosis and developing a treatment plan.

Seth J. Coynor, DO specializes in pediatrics and has extra training in neurodevelopmental disorders. He is trained to meet a variety of children’s health needs from birth through adolescence and aims to provide families with the tools and resources they need to raise happy, healthy children.

Sources:

“Anxiety Medication for Children: When Does My Anxious Child Need Medication?” Katie Hurley, LCSW – PSYCOM.

https://www.psycom.net/anxiety-medication-for-children/

“Anxiety Disorders.” Kids Health.

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/anxiety-disorders.html

“Recognizing and treating childhood anxiety disorders.” John Piacentini and Tami Roblek – Western Journal of Medicine.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071700/

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.

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