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A POINTER TO CHILDHOOD ANXIETY

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childhood anxiety image 1

Everyone experiences feelings of worry and anxiety from time to time. These feelings can range from a little sense of uneasiness to full-blown panic (or somewhere in between), but it however depends on the person and the situation. It is only natural for unfamiliar or challenging situations to trigger feelings of anxiety or nervousness in anyone. You may feel it when you have a competition to participate in, for example, or when addressing an audience, etc.

As much as adult experience feelings of anxiety, it is one of the most common emotional issues faced by children — being singled out to face other students in class to answer a question, participating in a competition, when facing an important test or switching schools, for example. Children with anxiety problems may not be aware of what is causing the emotions, worries, and sensations they have. These experiences can trigger anxiety, thus making them to focus on the “what if’s”: What if I mess up? What if people laugh at me or make jest of me? What if things don’t go as I planned? What if I fail?

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There is great beauty in going through life without anxiety or fear. Half our fears are baseless, and the other half discreditable. – Christian Nestell Bovee


Anxiety can be
experienced in diverse ways — physically, emotionally, and in the way people view the world around them. Anxiety mainly relates to intense worry about what might happen, i.e. worrying about things going wrong or feeling like you are in some kind of danger.


CAUSES

There are several factors that could cause anxiety in an individual, particularly children. These factors can range from genetic factor, environmental factor (learned behavior), past traumatic event, stressful life situations, etc.

  • Genetic factor: A child can be predisposed to developing an anxiety disorder as a result of having a family member who suffers from it. However, it is also important to note that not everyone with a family member who has an anxiety disorder will develop problems with anxiety.
  • Past traumatic event: events that occur in a child’s life can cause anxiety disorders in childhood or later in life. The loss of a loved one or parents’ divorce and major life transitions (like moving to a new town or new school, etc.) are common triggers. Children who have experienced abuse are also vulnerable to anxiety.
  • Environmental factor: Growing up in a family or in an environment where people are fearful, constantly worried or anxious also can “teach” a child to view the world as a dangerous place. Likewise, a child who grows up in an environment that is actually dangerous (if there is violence in the child’s family or environment, for example) may learn to be fearful, worried or expect the worst.
Girls standing apart from others in school

There’s just so much going on in my mind, sometimes I can’t keep up with what’s going on around me. – Amanda Jade Briska

 

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions. There are different types of anxiety disorders, each with its unique causes and symptoms. But they all have something peculiar in common — prolonged, intense, overwhelming, unrealistic, excessive worry that is out of proportion to the present situation and affects a person’s daily life and happiness. Symptoms of an anxiety disorder can occur suddenly or can grow little by little and eventually become full blown.

TYPES OF ANXIETY DISORDERS AND THEIR SYMPTOMS

  • Social Anxiety Disorder: this is characterized by an intense fear of social and performance situations and activities such as being called on in class or starting a conversation with a peer. This can significantly impair your child’s school performance and attendance, as well as his or her ability to socialize with peers and develop and maintain relationships.
  • Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is diagnosed if your child suffers at least two unexpected panic or anxiety attacks, which means they come on suddenly and for no reason. This is followed by at least one month of concern over having another attack, losing control, or “going crazy.”
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): If your child has generalized anxiety disorder, he or she will worry excessively about a variety of things such as grades, family issues, relationships with peers and performance in sports. Children with GAD tend to be very hard on themselves and strive for perfection. They may also seek constant approval or reassurance from others.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: This disorder is most common in children between ages seven to nine. However, older children can also suffer from this disorder too. When separation anxiety disorder occurs, a child experiences excessive anxiety away from home or when separated from parents or caregivers. Extreme homesickness and feelings of misery at not being with loved ones are common. Other symptoms include refusing to go to school, camp, or a sleepover, and demanding that someone stay with them at bedtime. Children with separation anxiety commonly worry about bad things happening to their parents or caregivers or may have a vague sense of something terrible occurring while they are apart.
  • Selective Mutism: this is characterized by refusal to speak in situations where talking is expected or necessary, to the extent that the refusal interferes with school and making friends. Children suffering from selective mutism may stand motionless and expressionless, turn their heads, chew or twirl hair, avoid eye contact, or withdraw into a corner to avoid talking. These children can be very communicative, expressive and display normal behaviors at home or in another place where they feel comfortable.

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Other Symptoms include;

  • Inability to relax
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Irregular breathing (rapid pulse or pounding, skipping, racing heart)
  • Nausea, chest pain or pressure
  • Feeling a “lump in the throat” or dry mouth
  • Feelings of dread, apprehension or losing control
  • Trembling or shaking, sweating or chills
  • Fainting or dizziness


EFFECTS

Some amount of anxiety is normal and can even be motivating. It helps us stay alert, focused, and ready to do our best. But when it becomes intense, or happens a lot, it can become overwhelming. It can interfere with a child’s self-confidence, self-esteem, sense of self-worth, social skills, relationship management skills, ability to get things done and, in severe cases, can start taking over the good and enjoyable parts of their life.

TREATMENT

  • Support: ranging from discussing practical solutions and contributing stresses, to educating family members.
  • Psychotherapy: also referred to as talking therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy.
  • Biofeedback Therapy
  • Audio-Visual Entrainment Therapy
  • Mindfulness Meditation Therapy

If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.

– Amit Ray

For more information on the therapy procedures visit our website on http://www.mobilehealthconsult.org and remember to follow @DrMorayoJimoh on twitter.

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