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Aug

14

Recognizing Anxiety in Children

Posted By: Sarah Gilbert on August 14, 2011 at 8:48 am

Worry is a reaction to a potential harm. When excessive “worrying” takes on a life of its own and prevents the worrier from leading a normal existence, it escalates into anxiety. Though fears are acquired, studies show this disorder is inherited.

Anxiety in children leads to an avoidance response. The child evades situations that trigger fear. Although evasion temporarily helps, over time it fortifies the ailment. A child refuses to go to school because he thinks the world is a scary place. Staying home evokes feelings of safety.

Children may suffer from a panic attack, another form of excessive worrying. A panic attack occurs when the mind thinks there is impending harm when none actually exists. It stimulates adrenaline, increases heart rate and causes sweaty palms.

A phobia is another case of severe worry. It is an irrational fear of an object or situation, caused by any occurrence. For instance, a 9 year old girl was afraid of elevators. Analysis showed that at age 2, she rode an elevator which left before her parents could get on it. So she stayed away from any place that entailed riding an elevator.

Another form of anxiety is social anxiety. Children are afraid of feeling discomfort in public and avoid gatherings. Participating in social events cultivates friendships and skills that lead to emotional maturity.

Children are naturally shy and hide their feelings of discomfit. The result of “holding onto these feelings” can result in symptoms like heart palpitations, shortness of breath, cramps, stomach aches, nightmares and a clingy, needy conduct. Children must be encouraged to verbalize their apprehensions and fears

Professional help for children’s anxiety is available. Correct management neutralizes the fear as wrong ideas are dispelled and the child is taught how to cope with them. The child gains confidence and support towards the mastery of the fear. Further, anxiety can be conquered with relaxation techniques, desensitization and alternative responses, and in more severe cases, medication.. Eventually, the child can squarely face whatever fear and get on with a normal life.

If your child is exhibiting symptoms of anxiety, social anxiety or stress – seek assistance. A qualified psychologist will be able to help your child identify and overcome anxiety, and the effect of anxiety in their life.

PS Counselling specializes in working with adolescents and adults who have experienced early childhood trauma, Borderline Personality Disorder, depression and anxiety. Find out more about recognizing anxiety in children by visiting http://www.pscounselling.com.au/adults/anxiety

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