Let’s face it: childhood isn’t what it used to be. From exhausting homework loads to the omnipresent clicking, ringing, and vibrating of technological devices, children are subjected to an endless stream of distractions and stress. The results are predictable: a near-epidemic of anxiety disorders over the past generation or so.
Sadly, most children with anxiety disorders don’t get the treatment they need. The best treatment protocols blend therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. We can help you choose the best strategy from each category, ensuring your child gets first-rate care in a comfortable setting. But before we can help, you’ll need to be able to properly identify that your child needs help for an anxiety disorder. Here are five telltale signs.
Anxiety Unrelated to Life Events
Life is scary, but anxiety disorders don’t discriminate. If your child seems scared for no apparent reason, or suddenly is much more fearful than he used to be, he could have an anxiety disorder. Before determining that your child suffers from anxiety, it’s important to get a clear picture of what’s going on in his or her life, since bullying, a recent parental divorce, or even a change in schools can lead to intense anxiety. Some signs to look for include:
- Taking longer than usual to recover from stressful events
- Seeming stressed and fearful even during relaxing, happy times and events
- Being targeted by bullies
- Not wanting to go to school
- Getting more fearful about stressful situations than he or she previously used to
- Frequent sweating
Oftentimes a stressful life even triggers an anxiety disorder, so it’s important to carefully monitor your child during times of stress. If he or she seems unable to bounce back from the struggles of daily life, it’s time to get help.
Changes in Eating and Sleeping Habits
Some kids, especially boys, deliberately try to conceal their feelings. But anxiety is as physical as it is psychological, so it’s important to look for physical signs of anxiety. Those include:
- Changes in sleeping, especially difficulty getting up in the morning, sleeping too much, or insomnia
- Changes in appetite; anxious kids often lose their appetites.
- Complaining of headaches or other unexplained pains.
- Frequent illnesses
- Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
Children don’t always know how to express their feelings, so many turn to acting out to get relief from their anxiety. This phenomenon is especially common among children under 10 and boys, but can happen to any child. If your child is experiencing academic troubles, has begun bullying other kids, or suddenly has become very difficult to manage, it could be the result of a behavioral problem. Some other telltale signs of anxiety you might notice include:
- Increased lying
- Unexplained tantrums
- A shorter temper
- Violence and aggression toward other kids
- Not going to school
- Relying on alcohol or drugs
Sudden Changes in Personality
Childhood is a process of slow evolution and change, and it’s normal for kids to change their personalities or interests during major milestones. The child who once loved reading might suddenly, at puberty, prefer to spend her time texting boys, for example. But if your child’s personality or mood changes without explanation, it’s a major warning sign. Anxious kids will do anything to get relief from their anxiety, including giving up friends and hobbies they once loved. Some retreat into themselves; others begin acting out, desperate to get the attention and help they need. If your child doesn’t seem like himself, it might be because anxiety is making it too difficult to be normal.
Difficulty Making Friends
Many anxious children are introverts plagued by shyness. Some struggle with social anxiety. And almost all kids with anxiety disorders behave in ways that other kids find strange. Kids can be cruel, and they’re highly adept at detecting unusual behavior. If your child struggles to make friends, seems scared of going to school, is frequently victimized by bullies, or constantly complains of being isolated, these could be telltale signs of an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety tends to get worse with age, so the best time to get your child’s anxiety under control is now. Let us show you what you can do to help. We’ll coach you and your child through the process of managing anxiety, offering compassion, support, and children counselling that’s free of judgment.