Acting Up Versus Anxiety: How To Tell If Your Child Is Suffering From An Anxiety Disorder
Adults aren't the only ones who suffer from anxiety. However, unlike adults, the symptoms of anxiety disorders in children are often difficult to detect and may be overlooked or brushed off as unruly behavior. How can you tell the difference between a child who is misbehaving and one who is suffering from an anxiety disorder?
You child exhibits physical changes
If your otherwise healthy and happy child begins to complain about minor aches and pains, it may be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder. Being anxious can cause muscles to tense up, which in turn causes muscle fatigue and discomfort.
Unless your child has a physical reason for muscular discomfort, such as starting to play a new sport or exercising more than usual, you may want to discuss anxiety with your child's physician or with a professional at child psychological services.
Headaches and upset stomachs can be other physical signs of stress in a child. These signs are typically not anything to be concerned about if the child is worried about an upcoming test or giving a speech in class, as many children experience mild anxiety and stress under these conditions. If your child appears to have upset stomachs or headaches frequently, you should seek an evaluation to rule out a physical illness or the possibility of an anxiety disorder.
You child's sleep pattern changes
Children often have an abundance of energy. If your child suddenly appears drowsy and lethargic, it may be a sign they are suffering from interrupted sleep. Sleep disturbances can present in different ways. Some anxious children will appear to be sleeping more often while others will have trouble going to bed at night. Waking up at night frequently and having difficulty going back to sleep are common in children suffering from anxiety.
Extreme mood changes
All children get irritable and grumpy at times, and it's not uncommon for toddlers to throw a few temper tantrums. However, if your otherwise happy and calm child develops frequent bouts of anger or exhibits emotional meltdowns on a regular basis, it may be a sign something else is going on.
Separation anxiety is another sign to look for. Your child may be fearful of spending the night away from home or attending the birthday party of a classmate. While separation anxiety is normal in very young children, extreme fear of being separated from a parent or a caregiver in older children can be a sign of a separation anxiety disorder.
Getting help from a trained child psychology professional is vital for your child's health and well being if he or she is suffering from an anxiety disorder. Observing your child's behavior and being aware of any changes in his or her personality is the first step in getting your child the help they need to lead a normal and happy life. Visit a psychological service such as Carewright Clinical Services to learn more.