According to Dr. William T. Goldman, anxiety symptoms and disorders are the most common health problem in America. Data provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services claims that about 13 percent of children from ages nine to 17 live with some form of anxiety disorder. About half of children with anxiety disorders live with other mental or behavioral disorders, like depression and attention deficit disorder.
While child anxiety disorders are common, a parent shouldn’t overlook or justify the disorder. If not treated properly, anxiety disorders in children can lead to further problems in adulthood, such as:
- Inability to function within normal social realms like school and work.
- Inability to relate to peers on a social level.
- Poor self-image.
- Substance abuse.
- Adult anxiety disorders and other mental health issues.
Understanding Child Anxiety
Child anxiety extends far beyond nail-biting, crying and stomachaches. A nine-year-old girl who was once the queen of slumber parties suddenly stopped asking friends over. Her straight-A report card turned to Bs and Cs. Shopping used to be her favorite Saturday afternoon activity, but she began avoiding the mall at all costs. Her mother tried to tell herself her child was just being moody, but the truth is that she was suffering from fear and worry that impacted her motivations, relationships and even her self-image. What her mother didn’t know was that anxiety disorders in children are common, treatable conditions.
The symptoms of child anxiety disorders are commonly misunderstood, and because of this, these disorders often go undiagnosed. Parents of children with anxiety disorders face an array of challenges. Children with anxiety often express their fear with anger and so they are often labeled as misbehaved, dumb or strange. A special kind of patience is required to see past these labels and avoid the frustration that accompanies a child who can be avoidant, annoying and sometimes totally exhausting. However, with professional treatment and small lifestyle changes, anxiety disorders can be manageable for both the parent and the child living with the disorder.