Education is an essential step in the process of helping a child or adolescent heal from an anxiety disorder. The more you understand about the signs, symptoms, and effects of anxiety, the better prepared you will be to get help for your son or daughter. At Altacare, we’re committed to supporting students and families throughout Montana as they work to heal from anxiety.
Understanding Anxiety in Children & Adolescents
Learn about anxiety disorders among children and adolescents
Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions that can affect both young people and adults alike. However, anxiety may manifest and present itself differently in children and teens than it does in adults. Anxiety involves persistent fear or nervousness that is disproportionate to the situation at hand, or that does not have a known cause. It is experienced as mental and physical symptoms that will significantly impede a child’s or adolescent’s ability to learn and grow.
Left untreated, anxiety can make it hard for a child to make and keep healthy peer relationships and access educational opportunities, and it can cause physical health impairments as well. Not to be confused with shyness, anxiety is a pervasive experience that often results in a child not wanting to go to school or engage in activities that they once enjoyed. Anxiety can cause a child to report somatic complaints like nausea, stomach pain, and headaches, and it can negatively impact eating and sleeping habits.
Fortunately, anxiety disorders are highly treatable conditions. With help from the experienced mental health professionals at Altacare, your child can learn to manage their symptoms and enjoy the vibrant childhood they so deserve.
Statistics about anxiety disorders among children and adolescents
The National Institute of Mental Health shares the following statistics about anxiety disorders among children and adolescents:
- An estimated 31.9% of adolescents struggle with an anxiety disorder.
- Of adolescents with an anxiety disorder, about 8.3% of them have experienced a severe impairment due to the condition.
- More females (38.0%) than males (26.1%) suffer from anxiety disorders.
- The prevalence of anxiety disorders is similar across adolescent age groups.
Causes & Risk Factors
Causes and risk factors for anxiety disorders among children and adolescents
If you know a child who is struggling with anxiety, you are likely wondering what caused the onset of this condition. While there is no single known cause that can accurately predict that a child will develop an anxiety disorder, there are some causes and risk factors for the condition, including:
- Having a parent or sibling who has struggled with anxiety or other types of mental illness
- Losing a parent or experiencing other forms of adversity during childhood
- A personal history of other mental health disorders
- Being the victim of abuse or neglect
- Gender (certain types of anxiety are more common among girls than among boys)
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents
Each child will experience anxiety in a unique way, but there are certain signs and symptoms to look for if you’re concerned that a young person in your life might have this type of disorder.
- Unwillingness to be in open spaces or confined spaces
- Withdrawing from friends and family members
- Changing behaviors to avoid certain people, places, or objects
- Refusing to participate in events that involve large gatherings of people
- Muscle tension
- Racing heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Excessive perspiration
- Elevated body temperature
- Tingling sensation in feet or hands
- Sleep problems
- Overwhelming sense of hopelessness
- Problems with focus or concentration
- Persistent sense of worry or dread
- Sense of detachment from the body or their surroundings
- Pervasive fear of being negatively judged by others
Effects of Anxiety
Effects of untreated anxiety disorders in children and adolescents
If a young person does not receive professional treatment for their anxiety disorder, their symptoms will likely worsen over time, and they may experience the following:
- Damaged parent/child relationship
- Increased risk for substance abuse and chemical dependencylater in life
- Onset or worsening of co-occurring mental health disorders
- Pervasive sense of helplessness and hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Inability to connect with friends
- Substandard performance in school
- Withdrawing or becoming isolated from friends and family members
Common co-occurring disorders among children and adolescents who develop anxiety disorders
A child who suffers from an anxiety disorder is more likely to also be diagnosed with:
- Eating disorders
- Substance use disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Why Seek Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
Altacare can help children and adolescents who have been struggling with an anxiety disorder
Without proper treatment, children who struggle with anxiety will face a host of physical, emotional, mental, and social consequences. But by engaging in treatment programming from Altacare, students who struggle with anxiety can receive individual, group, and family counseling, as well as one-on-one support in the educational setting. Altacare works closely with parents, teachers, and other providers to provide the wraparound care a child needs to overcome their anxiety.
At Altacare, our experienced teams of mental health professionals and behavioral specialists deliver on-site therapeutic services to students in schools throughout Montana. To learn more about our anxiety treatment services, or to hear more about any other aspect of Altacare’s programming, contact us today. Our staff is always available to discuss our admissions process and criteria, and to support you as you help a young person you care about access treatment for their anxiety disorder.