Childhood Anxiety Disorders

What is Childhood Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety is a normal part of childhood as well as adult life, and every child goes through different phases of it. Sometimes the phase is temporary and usually harmless. But children who suffer from an anxiety disorder experience fear, nervousness, and shyness, and they start to avoid places and activities.

How common is childhood Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, engage in substance abuse and maladjustment in later life.

Type Of Childhood Anxiety Disorder
• Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
• Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
• Panic Disorder
• Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
• Separation Anxiety Disorder
• Social Anxiety Disorder
• Selective Mutism.
• Specific Phobias

School refusal is a most common and an important feature of childhood anxiety disorder
School refusal describes the disorder of a child who refuses to go to school on a regular basis or has problems staying in school.

Common Symptoms
Children with school refusal may complain of physical symptoms shortly before it is time to leave for school or repeatedly ask to visit the home. If the child is allowed to stay home, the symptoms quickly disappear, only to reappear the next morning. In some cases a child may refuse to leave the house.
Common physical symptoms include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or diarrhea. But tantrums, inflexibility, separation anxiety, avoidance, and defiance may show up, too.

Reasons for school refusal
Starting school, moving, and other stressful life events may trigger the onset of school refusal. Other reasons include the child’s fear that something will happen to a parent after he is in school, fear that she won’t do well in school, or fear of another student.
Often a symptom of a deeper problem, anxiety-based school refusal affects 2 to 5 percent of school-age children. It commonly takes place between the ages of five and six and between ten and eleven, and at times of transition, such as entering middle and high school.
Children who suffer from school refusal tend to have average or above-average intelligence. But they may develop serious educational or social problems if their fears and anxiety keep them away from school and friends for any length of time.

Test Anxiety is also can be a cause of school refusal
Your child went to class, completed homework, and studied. He or she arrived at the exam confident about the material. But if he or she has test anxiety, a type of performance anxiety, taking the test is the most difficult part of the equation.

• Fear of failure
• Lack of preparation.
• Poor test history etc

Physical symptoms. Headache, nausea, diarrhea, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, light-headedness and feeling faint can all occur.
Test anxiety can lead to a panic attack, which is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort in which individuals may feel like they are unable to breathe or having a heart attack.
Emotional symptoms. Feelings of anger, fear, helplessness and disappointment are common emotional responses to test anxiety.
Behavioral/Cognitive symptoms. Difficulty concentrating, thinking negatively and comparing yourself to others are common symptoms of test anxiety.

Anxiety disorders also often co-occur with other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).mostly it occur with depression.

Anxiety and Depression in Children
Children can also be diagnosed with both depression and an anxiety disorder, or depression and general anxiety. About half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Children with depression may display these symptoms:
• Depressed or irritable mood
• Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
• Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school
• Change in eating habits
• Feeling angry or irritable
• Mood swings
• Feeling worthless or restless
• Frequent sadness or crying
• Withdrawing from friends and activities
• Loss of energy
• Low self-esteem
• Thoughts of death or suicide

Psychopharmacological intervention
Play therapy
Cognitive behaviour therapy
Behaviour therapy
Coping skill training