Anxiety disorders in childhood: symptoms and treatments

Know the anxiety disorders that arise in childhood this is very important, given the very delicate stage in life that miners go through.

In this article, we will look at what disorders of this type are and how they can be treated.

    Types of anxiety disorders in children

    Children and adolescents, as well as adults, can exhibit symptoms of anxiety and, despite the similarities, the consequences can be more dire as it is performed. the risk of affecting their socio-emotional development and even become chronic, becoming a more severe pathology.

    That is why it is important to detect any signs of anxiety during childhood in time. Certain situations such as changing schools, going to high school, the birth of a brother or sister, the separation of parents, the loss of a loved one or moving to another city, can cause the appearance anxiety. In contrast, generalized anxiety disorder has a higher incidence, but separation anxiety disorder is very common and specific in children.

    Anxiety disorders that appear in childhood they can be classified into the following categories.

      1. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

      Generalized anxiety disorder is clinically defined in children and adults, such as an exacerbated and difficult to control concern faced with many situations, present most days for at least six months.

      According to the DSM IV Psychiatry Handbook, anxiety is associated with at least three of the following symptoms: restlessness or impatience, ease of fatigue, difficulty concentrating or staying empty, irritability, muscle tension, and trouble sleeping.

      Anxiety affects parents and child, Harming their academic performance and social relationships, as well as their concerns can encompass many situations: academic or athletic performance, social approval, personal competence, etc.

      Children and teens with this disorder tend to be conformist, perfectionist, and anxious. it may be accompanied by headaches and muscle pain, Nausea, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and other symptoms of physical discomfort.

        2. Separation anxiety disorder (ASD)

        During childhood, it is common to experience anxiety when separating from loving characters. This fear generally appears at six months and intensifies at two years, responding to a need for adaptation as it constitutes a mechanism of protection against dangers of the environment. However, if the anxiety is disproportionate to the child’s developmental development and / or affects their functioning, we may be dealing with separation anxiety disorder.

        It is the most common anxiety disorder in children under 12 and early onset, who suffer from it about 4% of boys and girls and 1.6% of adolescents. The presence of this condition decreases with age, but the concerns of those who suffer from it also change. So, teens with separation anxiety disorder show more catastrophic concerns, for example accidents, kidnappings or the death of the affection figure.

        For the clinical diagnosis of ASD, the child or adolescent must suffer from at least three of the following symptoms: excessive separation or anticipation anxiety, excessive concern for the loss or well-being of the figures of the condition , opposition to departure, opposition to be alone, opposition to sleeping away from loving characters, Separation nightmares and complaints of physical discomfort (headache or stomach ache, nausea or vomiting, etc.) when separation occurs or anticipates.

        What processes are involved in the emergence and maintenance of CASs?

        Learning deficits, that is to say the lack of separations, they prevent the child from getting used to doing without parents. To eliminate the fear of separation, it is necessary to gradually increase the frequency and duration of experiences in which the child is far from the figures of affection. Therefore, if the child is not exposed to these situations in a natural environment, the fear may persist.

        Traumatic or unexpected separation experiencesLike parental divorce, schooling, hospitalization of a loved one, or the death of a loved one, can also lead to anxiety and even trigger the disorder.

        Finally, positive reinforcement is one of the factors that most influences the appearance and maintenance of the disorder. If the father figures reward the excessive affection and dependency behaviors, The child will associate them with the reward received, either the attention or the simple presence of the parents.

        Treatment of childhood anxiety disorders

        Since an anxiety disorder can disable the functioning of those who suffer from it in the short and long term, it is important to intervene as soon as possible and not be guided by the thought that it is a phase or that it is happening. will produce alone.

        In the case of anxiety in children, according to the Society of Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology of the APA (American Psychiatric Association), the best established treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, Which should be the first therapeutic choice. It has been shown to be effective in individual treatments with the child and with parents and in group treatments in family and school settings. Specifically, the three most commonly used procedures are exposure, cognitive techniques, and relaxation.

        On the one hand, a progressive exposure, live or in imagination, Is the main component of cognitive behavioral therapy.

        Self-learning is also a key part of therapy and involves changing the child’s internal verbalizations to replace them with others that deal with anxiety.

        Regarding relaxation, the most used method is that of progressive relaxation, according to which reduce body tension it will relieve subjective feelings of anxiety. It is also a coping strategy that will help young people to maintain their anxiety at sustainable levels.

        Intervention programs for parents and children

        In addition, over the past decades, several programs have been developed focused on parents and children with the aim of prevent and treat anxiety disorders specific to childhood.

        The “Coping Cat” or The Cute Cat guide is particularly useful for teach parents to educate without overprotecting and promote the autonomy of the child. It consists of a program divided into two phases in which, on the one hand, we work with the parents and, on the other hand, individual sessions are organized with the child, dealing with tasks such as psychoeducation, relaxation, exposure, cognitive restructuring, problem solving and self-control.

        We can also meet the FRIENDS program, divided into four versions according to the age of the child, And the FORTIUS program which, based on the Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (faster, bigger, stronger), teaches children from 8 to 12 years old to face difficult situations and to control emotions. negative.

        These cognitive-behavioral therapy-based programs are tailored to the peculiarities of children and adolescents and to the characteristics of conduct disorders at these ages, which greatly benefits the child population.

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