All children experience fears or anxieties during their life. These can range from fear of thunderstorms to starting a new school year to strangers. These fears are expected, but typically to not lead to what is known as a panic attack or panic disorder. Unfortunately, they can suffer from these just as an adult can.

As adults, it is our job to protect our children from dangers in their lives. However, some children will be afflicted with anxiety disorders. One such disorder is called generalized panic disorder, exhibiting itself in various ways. Excessive worry about everyday events, such as a normal school day or being at home with one’s family, is a symptom of this disorder. Sufferers tend to be very hard on themselves, always striving for perfection in everything they do. Even simple tasks are often done over and over again in an attempt to be perfect. They seek constant approval from others.

Anxiety Disorder Child

Another type of anxiety disorder found in children is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  Sufferers have unwanted or obtrusive thoughts or obsessions that they cannot get out of their heads. They have a strong desire to perform ritualistic routines or behaviors in order to ease their anxiety. Children as young as two or three can have OCD, although the most common age of onset occurs around ten. Commons signs include counting and recounting of objects, excessive handwashing, and other repetitive behaviors. This helps ward off unwelcome thoughts and provides a sense of comfort for the sufferer.

Panic disorders can also occur in children. Diagnosis of this includes experiencing two or more unexpected panic attacks, followed by concern lasting at least one month over having another panic attack.  They are more common among adolescents, although younger children may experience them as well.

Phobias are also a form of anxiety disorder. They are irrational, persistent fears of certain activities, people, things, or situations. Normal childhood fears, such as fear of the dark or of storms, are not considered phobias unless they last longer than six months and they interfere with daily functioning. Some of the symptoms include headache, stomachache, tantrums, clinginess, and freezing in place when subjected to a given fear.

Post-traumatic distress disorder occurs when a sudden event, such as the death of a parent, accident, or assault, results in a type of anxiety disorder. Symptoms may include poor eating and sleeping habits, nightmares, inappropriate play, and emotional numbing, all due to a fear that the event may occur again.

All these types of anxiety disorders may occur in both adults and children, although the symptoms may be different. Children do not have the understanding that their fears are not rational, and are not capable to sort out and verbalize their feelings. Excessive crying, tantrums, and clinginess to others are warning signs. Any child showing these symptoms should be seen by a pediatrician for further evaluation.

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