All anxiety disorders involve fear, worry, and excessive distress. There are many types of anxiety. Some common signs and symptoms to look for in kids and teens include:
- Excessive discomfort in front of others or in public
- Avoidance of social or public situations
- Inability to speak in select social or public situations (such as at school, in a store, at a restaurant, etc.)
- Worry or fear before or during separation from parents or loved ones
- Frequent nightmares involving the loss of parents or loved ones
- Obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors
- Panic attacks, or fear of panic attacks
- Specific fears or phobias (such as of bees, dogs, etc.)
- Fear of natural disasters or other large-scale accidents
- Unrealistic or unfavorable opinion of one’s own performance or abilities
- Excessive need for reassurance and approval from others
These are just some signs that a youth may have an anxiety disorder. All of these symptoms can occur in kids and teens without anxiety disorders; however, for youth with anxiety disorders, these feelings are more intense and more persistent, and they can cause difficulty on a regular basis.
In all cases, it is up to a healthcare provider or mental health professional to make a diagnosis. As a provider, it is important to determine whether the symptoms a child is experiencing are temporary responses to a difficult or stressful life situation or associated with a specific anxiety disorder or medical condition.
There are a number of effective treatment methods for childhood anxiety disorders.