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Anxiety Disorders in Children

What Are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety is the feeling kids (and adults) get when they anticipate some kind of future threat. It often causes people to become tense and hypervigilant as they prep to avoid the perceived threat. Anxiety disorders are illnesses that cause patients to express excessive fear, anxiety, or avoidance behaviors. What makes each anxiety disorder stand out is the item or circumstance that triggers these excessive responses. Some examples include:

  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: Describes when a patient has excessive fear or anxiety when separated from a person to whom they are attached, most often a parent or sibling. Oftentimes, children with anxiety disorders will shadow or cling to their parents and refuse to sleep without being near them.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Causes patients to experience fear or anxiety when exposed to social situations like having conversations, meeting new people, or performing in front of others. Among children, it’s important to establish these symptoms express themselves in peer settings around other kids and not just adults.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Patients express excessive anxiety and worry about a number of events or activities for at least six months. Typically, in children, these tend to be related to their competence or performance in school or sports.

What can I do for my child right now?

The best thing you can do for your child if you suspect they have an anxiety disorder is to have them evaluated by a doctor. The diagnostic criteria for diagnosing mental illnesses, especially in children, is extensive! Only a licensed physician can determine whether your child has a behavioral health disorder and recommend treatments and strategies for how to manage their symptoms. Our physicians are committed to providing children in SWFL with access to the mental health resources they deserve, without having to travel outside our community.