Anxiety Disorders

If a child or adolescent you know is struggling and has come to you for help, you can take steps to assist them achieving a healthy, happy outcome and lifestyle. Below are some important facts about anxiety disorders that can help you determine if they need a higher level of help.

Research shows that youth with anxiety disorders that go without treatment are at higher risk to perform poorly at school, miss social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. 25% of youth 13-18 years old are affected by anxiety disorders. 80% of youth with anxiety disorders do not get appropriate treatment.

  • Emotional changes such as being “on edge” and irritable

  • Trouble focusing and concentrating

  • Fixation on habits or routines

  • Restlessness and difficulty with sleep

  • Avoidance of social interactions and isolation from peers

  • Changes in eating habits

  • Picking at nails or skin

  • Pacing

  • Physical symptoms (headaches, unexplained aches and pains, extreme tiredness) and chest pains, upset stomach, dizziness, and trouble breathing (these may signal a panic attack)

  • Dramatic shifts in grades, missed assignments, and putting off work to the last minute are signs to look for in school too.

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  • Agoraphobia (fear and avoidance of places where person feels “trapped” and panicked)

  • Other General Phobias

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Panic Disorder

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Separation Anxiety

  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

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  • ​Make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night.

  • Try to find ways to lower your anxiety by taking deep breaths and slowing down your thoughts.

  • Try to create a mental picture of your favorite special place and put yourself there.

  • Practice positive self-talk (I CAN do this!) and try to shut down the “what if’s” and “yeah, but’s” in your head.

  • Focus on some of the positive things going on in your life.

  • Exercise may also be a good way to channel those anxious thoughts.

  • Remember, talk to a trusted adult when you are feeling hopeless and need more support.

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  • Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders

  • Let your child know that you believe them and validate their concerns

  • Listen to your child and try not to rush to action to “fix” it for them

  • Discuss your concerns with your child’s medical provider. Sometimes counseling services and/or the support of medication are needed to confront the anxiety.

  • Keep in mind that some amount of anxiety can be beneficial for youth (taking exams or handling tough social situations)

  • Remember, anxiety is treatable

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