Do you find our website to be helpful?
Yes   No

Anxiety Disorders in Children: A Family Affair

According to the Surgeon General, about 7% of children have diagnosed anxiety.

Anxiety can look different for different people. Maybe it's social phobia, or Avoidant Personality Disorder, or Panic Disorder. The point is, they all tend to have similar symptoms: sweaty palms, pounding heart, increased respiratory out put, sick or sore stomach, and of course feelings of anxiety. 

What is the cause of anxiety disorders? It’s not fully understood, but we do know that anxiety disorders tend to run in families—probably a mixture of environmental upbringing and heredity. 

There is also a correlation between anxiety disorders and children that have trouble sleeping. Sometimes it is hard to know what came first, the chicken or the egg. But children that have trouble sleeping tend to have higher levels of stress during the day, which increases stress hormones like Cortisol. Cortisol tends to deplete Serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter, which sets them up for problems like anxiety or depression. 

When I see a child for anxiety, I test the parents as well. More than not, I find at least one parent that will also be experiencing anxiety. I will also note that the parent tends to have an “anxious parent” type of parenting style. This is shown by a tendency of over-protectiveness and a tendency towards elevated expressed emotion when stressed.

Unfortunately, too often a child learns from this parent how to experience and deal with the world. For example, if the parent has a highly reactive style towards spiders, the child often will also. 

I also would like to note the correlation between anxiety and frequent illness. If you see your child getting sick a lot and missing school you might want to go get your child checked for an anxiety disorder with your Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner or Psychiatrist.

Anxiety disorders can be hard to pinned down. But if you begin by testing for anxiety, you may find it's anxiety that's contributing to a child's tummyaches or intestinal trouble, and not an ulcer. 

Author
Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Spirituality and Eating Disorders

According to some research, strong religious beliefs coupled with a positive relationship with a higher power are connected to  lower levels of disordered eating and body image concern. 

Depression and Aging

Depression tends to worsen with age. Now, during isolation and COVID-19, it is even more important to help our elderly maintain their mental health.

Study Redirects Schizophrenia Treatment

For decades, mental health professionals have heavily emphasized medication in the fight against schizophrenia symptoms. A groundbreaking new study says we should turn that approach around: Focusing more on therapy than on medication yields better results.

Too Much Alcohol May Be Affecting Your Sleep

When it comes to sleep, it looks like alcohol has an effect opposite the one many think it has. It turns out that not only is a nightcap a bad way to  send you off to bed, your drinking habits overall could be affecting the way you sleep.