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.
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 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.
9 Ways to Support Your Spouse’s Mental Health
13 Monumental Ways to Help Your Childs Mental Health
How to Comfort Your Friend with Anxiety
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Kids
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.
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.
Very well explained! My toddler had a separation anxiety because of which we couldn’t put him into the daycare.
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.
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.
I think it’s so important for parents to be aware of potential anxiety disorders in their kids. Acknowledging it and seeking help can help the child’s life in a tremendous way.
This is a great break down of anxiety!
I think it’s very important to be aware of your kids issues. This is a wonderful article, and I think more parents should read it!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
It is so important for parents to be aware of anxiety in children! It is much more common than most people think. Thank you so much for sharing!
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.
That’s a detailed post. Very helpful indeed. With a baby in hand, I’m gonna dig more into this and I should be more aware of the disorders prevalent
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We just realized that my daughter has anxiety at school. She totally freezes when the teachers call on her during class. We are trying to gently deal with it through guidance.
My daughter was actually just diagnosed with GAD. My son has an IEP for Selective Mutism which is a form of social anxiety. It’s so sad that at such young ages they have to deal with anxiety. But at least there’s therapy!
Good information on anxiety. It definitely covers the most frequently encountered types. And it’s definitely tough when you or your kids have it. My son has anxiety and it can be very rough with him. He appears as if he’s not as capable for his age but it’s due to his anxiety and not true physical inability.
Such a tough thing for kids. My friend’s daughter has major anxiety, and it is a big struggle for them. Interesting to read some more about anxiety in kids.
My oldest has OCD. He’s just starting therapy for it as well as for his ADD so I’m hoping and praying it really helps!
thanks so much for this post.. while i have not had to deal with it personally (for me or immediate family), i do know people who have suffered and posts like yours will help
my son doesnt have any kind of anxiety, not like these, but this is so helpful so I know what to recognize
Love this! If my daughter ever starts to show signs, I’ll know what to look for! Thank you for the guide!
Thank you for differentiating all the different types of anxiety and was makes it a disorder. My son and I both have OCD and Generalized anxiety. His manifests physically and as anger. It’s sooo hard to live with but we have come a long way in helping him process stress! PTL!
Thanks for sharing all this useful information. It will definitely help differentiate between different anxieties and help parents with children that suffer from anxiety.
My son definitely has social disorder and I just try to support him as best as I can.
As an adult that suffers from anxiety my heart goes out to kids suffering with it. Anxiety is just so awful.
A lot of my daughter’s friends have anxiety disorder and my friends tell me that it’s really such a struggle sometimes. It’s so good to understand these disorders so that we can explain it to our own kids who do not understand – that way they can become more compassionate. We have our own struggles too and I love when my friends teach their kids tolerance of our kids’ unique differences. As families with kiddos that have struggles in any way, we all need as much support as we can possibly get from one another.