Child Therapy for Anxiety

Child Therapy for Anxiety
Anxiety is something that we all experience in our lifetime, at one point or another. 

Speaking in front of a large crowd or being stuck in traffic can give occasionally make us anxious. 

But with an anxiety disorder, you get the feeling that you are always on edge. 

As adults, we know that we are able to treat our anxiety by going to visit with a therapist or seeing a psychiatrist, whatever you are comfortable with. 

But when it comes to children, they do not know how to make heads or tails of what they are feeling, especially when it comes to an anxiety disorder. 

Feelings of anxiety can become overwhelming and even crippling to the child to the point where they don't want to do anything that will cause them anxiety. 

Below we will discuss what anxiety in children is, and what child therapy for anxiety is all about. 

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Symptoms of Anxiety In Children

Just like adults, children are prone to all kinds of anxiety disorders. 

We will explain each one in detail below. 

However, all of the anxiety disorders have the same thing in common, and that is that they present with the fear of constant dread, worry, or fear in situations that pose no threat to them. 

Each anxiety disorder comes with its own symptoms. Some other symptoms include:

- Being irritable or restless
- Always feeling like something bad is going to happen and being hypervigilant
- Racing heart 
- Shortness of breath 
- Sweating 
- Fatigue 
- Upset stomach 

If you notice one or more of these signs in your child, it would be a good idea to sit them down and talk to them about how they are feeling. 

Only then can you determine if the need for child therapy for anxiety is an option. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder 

With Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), those affected have a chronic excessive worry about everyday life in general. 

Someone affected with GAD can present with headaches, tension, and even nausea. 

It can be extremely hard to concentrate when you are battling GAD. 

The worry can become so bad that even a child's concentration can become affected, and even normal daily tasks for them may go uncompleted. 

They may worry about things like home life, school, health, and more. 

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder can strike out of nowhere, leaving children with sudden and intense feelings of terror and upset. 

Panic attacks often have very physical symptoms, such as chest pain, dizziness, heart palpitations, upset stomach, and shortness of breath. 

Panic attacks are something that should be taken seriously. 

Children may go to great lengths to try and avoid anything that they may believe will trigger a panic attack in them. 

Sometimes they may even isolate themselves in their bedrooms just to avoid an attack. 

Social Anxiety Disorder

While this may be mistaken for being extremely shy in the beginning, may actually be a social anxiety disorder. 

With this type of anxiety, children will have fears about any kind of social interaction, going to school, going to birthday parties, etc. 

They may not participate in class discussions at all, and will not raise their hand, possibly out of fear of humiliation in front of people. 

Panic attacks are usually anticipated if they are placed into a social situation that they are not comfortable with. 

They will become isolated and likely stay in their bedroom. 

Phobias

While we all usually will avoid certain things that may upset us, phobias take it one step further and can cause anxiety and panic, especially in children.

It can be a certain event, object, or place that may be triggering to them, and they will often feel strong feelings of fear in such situations. 

Depending on the type of phobia, the intense fear and hard work of trying to stay away from their triggers can become exhausting for them. 

Separation Anxiety 

Separation anxiety comes from when the child is extremely fearful when their parents or caregivers are away from them. 

Even if they are just running down the street to the store. 

If it just seems to happen out of nowhere to older children, there may be a more deep-seated feeling that could be being caused by other issues, like bullying in school for example. 

Sitting down and speaking with them can help you get a better feel of what is going on in your child's mind.

How It Is Treated 

In many cases, the gold standard for helping treat a child with an anxiety disorder is a technique known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy works in the way that by changing distorted thinking (such as that with anxiety) and dysfunctional behaviors (avoidance, isolation, etc.) helps us to change our thinking patterns. 

However, with children, the behavior portion is focused on more closely. 

Some ways that counselors can use CBT to help anxiety is called exposure and response prevention. 

The idea is that in the safe space of the counselor's office, children are slowly exposed to the things that trigger their anxiety. 

But it is done in small steps. During each of these small steps, the triggers get easier for your children to become accustomed to. 

The anxiety will then begin to fade over time. 

Conclusion

If you feel that your child might suffer from anxiety, it is important for them to see a doctor first. 

That is merely to rule out any possible underlying physical causes of their symptoms. 

If everything comes back okay, then they may have an anxiety disorder. 

Speak to their pediatrician to see if stronger intervention is needed, such as seeing a psychiatrist. 

Their doctor may just recommend they see a counselor, who is trained in the tools and techniques that can help your child heal from their anxiety.

If you are ready to schedule an appointment with one of our trained counselors, please call (719) 345-2424 and we will help you find the right counselor for your child.

Resources 

https://childmind.org/article/behavioral-treatment-kids-anxiety/

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders

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May 16th, 2022

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