Anxiety Disorders in Kids

I have suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember. Considering I do and my husband does as well I’ve decided I want to know more about anxiety in kids. I hope to help my kids through any anxiety they may experience as they grow older. Here are some common anxiety disorders in kids. As I outline these specific disorders I want to be clear that the difference between suffering from anxiety and having a disorder can be a big difference. Anxiety has so many forms, levels, and intensities.

What constitutes a disorder?

This article outlines the difference wonderfully. The best point I want to highlight is “An anxiety disorder also produces intense and excessive emotional responses. Even if you’re reacting to a stressor, your anxiety is disproportionate to that stressor.”

What does it mean to have a disproportionate response?

An example I’ve seen many times is when someone is anxious over the possibility of leaving their car windows down over night. So they check and recheck the windows several times before finally coming in. This is disproportionate because one time checking the windows should be enough. There are several other examples. Do you suffer from anxiety? What disproportionate responses have you seen in your own anxiety?  What’s also hard about anxiety is the logical vs irrational. Most all anxiety sufferers do know their responses are irrational and disproportionate but they either feel a compulsion to still do so or a physical response towards the stressor they’re unable to control.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the fear of anything and everything. It is feelings of anxiety over every little scenario. This article explains well about how kids with GAD often feel a need to know everything that is going on. They may ask a lot of “what if” questions. As parents of children with Generalized Anxiety Disorder it may be hard to tell them something that may trigger their anxiety and a lot of things may trigger their anxiety. For instance, if a car accident happened they may stress over the possibility of it happening to them.

Panic Disorder

A panic attack is best described as a sudden rush of panic and anxiety. This can be with several physical symptoms such as a fast, pounding heartbeat, sweating, trembling, and dizziness. The first panic attack often comes out of nowhere. It can be hard to pin point what exactly caused the panic and it can also be caused by more then one stressor.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation anxiety is one of the most common types of anxiety seen in kids, especially young kids. When a child suffers from Separation Anxiety Disorder, however, they suffer a disproportionate response, excessive anxiety over separation from their parents or perceived separation.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is an extreme fear of social situations. This is one I’ve had over my lifetime. This is more then being shy. This fear can give physical, painful, stress over situations where they feel like they be embarrassed or evaluated. For me this was present when asked to speak in class in any manner, I would not raise my hand to answer questions even if I knew I was right, due to an irrational fear I could be wrong and embarrass myself.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in when unwanted thoughts of harm flood the head and in an effort to ward off the harm create compulsive habits in an effort to ward off the harm that may come. That actually is a real simplistic way to explain. This disorder is extremely complicated. It is described in more detail here. An example of this in kids can be a fear of dying or becoming sick so they have to repetitively wash their hands.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is heard often in everyday life in regards to soldiers coming back from war. PTSD can also be present in anyone who has had a traumatic event happen to them. Most often the responses from the traumatic experience appear a month or two after the fact. They can be physical responses, nightmares, separation anxiety, and reliving the traumatic experience.   I’d love to hear from you. What experiences have you had with anxiety in kids? What experiences did you have as a kid and with your kids or kids you know? Check out these great books on anxiety and anxiety in kids. SaveSave

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20 thoughts on “Anxiety Disorders in Kids

  1. My son has anxiety and I feel so bad for him. These kids are growing up in a tough world and there are so many things to worry about. I do feel like as parents we have more resources to help us recognize anxiety and help our kids.

    1. I completely agree. Both my husband and I have felt that our anxiety as kids was terrible but we didn’t really recognize that was what it was until we were older. We hope to help our kids through anything they may experience by being informed.

  2. My son had extreme separation anxiety until he was five. He continued to have other social phobias as well. At 15 he was given Risperidal (ms) and things got better, not great but better. At 30 he started having wild mood outburst and eventually received anxiety medication. He has another serious mental illness also so this is not all from anxiety. I had serious social phobias as a child. I wouldn’t talk if there was more than 2 people. I was afraid of everyone thinking I was “weird.” Always being nervous, upset stomach, fearful which led to be being bullied because of being different and eventually for any reason they could find. My parents did not believe in mental illness so I received no help and had no way to express it. I have bared my business I hope you found something helpful.

    1. Thank you for sharing. I had terrible social phobia as a kid and even now with anxiety meds and some groups like Toastmasters has helped me with some, like public speaking phobia. But I still have severe social anxiety when it comes to huge groups. It’s hard when parents don’t experience it and don’t understand. I do so I will understand some if my kids have anxiety but that is also why I wanted to remain informed.

  3. This is such a detailed post on anxiety – It’s definitely important for parents to be able to help their children with whatever issues they are facing.

  4. I think its really sad that kids experience anxiety, wouldn’t it be lovely to live in a world with less worry? This was a really informative post about the different anxieties children may experience it will really help some people out.

  5. My son definitely struggles with some anxiety. It isn’t surprising since my husband and I both do. At least we can try to teach him helpful coping skills.

  6. Anxiety is such a difficult topic to pinpoint and in it is sad to see in kids. I have some anxiety issues and know people who have them as well. Talking about it helps me. Thank you for raising the awareness.

  7. My husband and I were just talking about anxiety issues. Working in a university setting, we are both encountering an increasing number of college students suffering from anxiety. It makes me what to learn more about what can help, both for my job and as a mother. I sure hope my son doesn’t have to battle anxiety. Thanks for sharing the resource list.

  8. i’m almost positive my middle daughter has PTSD, last year we were in a horrible car accident where we were hit by a drunk driver.Its so scary as a parent.

  9. I never knew there were so many different kinds of anxiety disorders. I think as mothers we all suffer from anxiety a little bit because of all the unknowns that could happen to you or your children. But it’s nice to see the differences laid out like this

  10. I was always an anxious person. I developed postpartum anxiety and it was frightening and difficult. My heart goes out to children who experience anxiety. Thanks for sharing this.

  11. Social anxiety disorder is something that I’m familiar with. I’ve gone through it myself and so have my kids. It’s not easy to battle and it takes patience and time to overcome such a thing but it’s possible to overcome it. In the person’s own way, they will grow out of it.

  12. My husband has social anxiety but we’ve learned a few coping mechanisms that have really helped him manage it so it’s not so crippling as it was before.

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