Anxiety Disorders in Children and Teens
Children and teens have anxiety in their lives, just as adults do, and they can suffer from anxiety disorders in much the same way. Stressful life events, such as starting school, moving, or the loss of a parent, can trigger the onset of an anxiety disorder, but a specific stressor need not be the precursor to the development of a disorder. Research has shown that if left untreated, children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, to have less developed social skills and to be more vulnerable to substance abuse.
While children can develop any of the recognized anxiety disorders, some are more common in childhood than others. Some disorders tend to be specific to age development. Separation Anxiety Disorder and Specific Phobias are more common in younger children, about ages 6-9 years old. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) are more common in middle childhood and adolescence. Panic Disorder can occur in adolescence as well. As with adults, depression has a high rate of comorbidity in children, especially among teenagers.
Although children experience the symptoms of anxiety in much the same way as adults do, children display and react to those symptoms differently. This can lead to difficulties in diagnosis. It can also be difficult to determine whether a child's behavior is "just a phase," or whether it constitutes a disorder.
Topics for Understanding Anxiety Disorders in Kids:
Reprinted with the permission of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.
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