Anxiety Disorder in Children

Although anxiety disorder in children is one of the most common issues I see in my practice, it is often undetected or misunderstood. Frequently, a parent will bring their child in because they know something is wrong, but they can’t quite figure out what it is. I guess that it’s not that surprising, considering I see the same thing with my adult clients. They may come in with a variety of symptoms, but unaware of the fact that they are experiencing an anxiety disorder.

There are many different forms of anxiety disorder in children and each have differences but also, commonalities. Anxiety is based in fear. Anxiety has physiological components. and in all of the anxiety disorders, the symptoms have begun to impair the child's  ability to function in an important setting, such as  home, with friends, or at school, it's important to get help. Anxiety disorder in children  can be treated successfully in a variety of different ways.

Where does anxiety disorder in children come from?

Children who have anxiety often have a genetic predisposition to it, have some stress in their lives that is challenging for them to deal with.  As a parent, its important to realize that getting help early is a good thing, and your child is not suffering from anxiety because of something you did. The world is a stressful place for children these days. The sooner they learn how to manage their stress and anxiety, the better off they will be in life! Regardless of the specific kind of anxiety your child is dealing with, stress management techniques can be helpful.

Pages you can link to from this page will help you to understand more about what your child is dealing with. If you are looking for help for your child with anxiety this might be a place to start. If you are interested in finding out what might be the cause for your child’s anxiety, please click here.

Also you may find yourself in a position where you wonder about medication as an option for your child. Please click here to leave anxiety disorder in children  for information on child anxiety medication.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is excessive or unrealistic anxiety or worry over a variety of issues. A child with generalized anxiety disorder may worry about everything. They worry about things that have happened, things that are happening, and things that may happen in the future.

Children may manifest these symptoms as follows:

  • They may spend hours doing and redoing homework or other tasks that peers would complete quickly.
  • They often put pressure on themselves to perform and are perfectionist.
  • They may tantrum or become angry about something with little provocation because they are trying to avoid their anxiety.
  • They may ask for reassurance frequently about their fears, but in some cases they may not talk about them at all.

They may experience:


Difficulty concentrating or irritability

Muscle tension

Sleep disturbance

Feeling on edge

Panic Disorder/Panic Attack/Child Anxiety Attack

Panic attacks are not a very common anxiety disorder  in children but do occur occasionally.

They are more common in adolescents and may occur with agoraphobia, which is essentially fearfulness about leaving the safety of home or other comfort zones. Children or adolescents who are having a child anxiety attack may refuse to leave their homes and refuse to go to school. This often happens because a child has experienced a child anxiety attack or panic attack at school and then chooses to avoid that setting.

Panic attacks are distinguished from other kinds anxiety in children by the physical symptoms that accompany it.

Shortness of breath, pain, and intense fear often suddenly come over children who are having panic attacks. A child who is experiencing a panic attacks should be evaluated by a medical doctor to ensure there is no physical cause for the problem.

Click here to leave anxiety disorder in children for  information on treatment for children with panic disorder

Childhood Separation Anxiety Disorder

Anxiousness is a normal part of growing up but this should lesson as the child grows older. If being apart from you is interfering in your child’s daily routine, success in school, or relationships with peers it may be a more serious issue.

In younger children common symptoms of separation anxiety include: crying, clinging, and panic upon separation from you.

In older children some signs of separation anxiety include: unrealistic worry about harm to loved ones, fear parents will not be there when they return home, reluctance to sleep alone, school refusal, stomachaches, headaches, or other physical symptoms.

Click here for information on separation anxiety during different ages

Click here for information on sleep problems in children with separation anxiety

Click here for information on separation anxiety treatment

Click here for information on separation anxiety in teenagers

Click here for information about the causes of separation anxiety

Test Anxiety

Test anxiety has become a more common form of anxiety in children since standardized testing has become a tool used to determine whether kids will be promoted. Not always, but sometimes test anxiety can be a symptom of a larger problem. Please click here to find out about test anxiety in general . Please click here to find out about the causes of test anxiety  and  test anxiety tips and also information about school refusal.

Social Phobia or Social Anxiety

Social Phobia is one kind of anxiety disorder in children that is more common in adolescents than in young children. Children with social phobia may experience intense shyness uneasiness around strangers. When the desire to avoid strangers or people interferes in the development of normal social relatedness, it is abnormal. Social Phobia may also lead to isolation and depression in kids.

One type of social phobia is selective mutism in which the child is unable to speak in social situations. Often adults get angry with these children and punish them or try to make them talk, when in reality this is a manifestation of anxiety. This is a disorder that actually begins in very young children but may extend in some cases into adolescence. Please click here for more information on social anxiety in a child. 

Specific Phobia

Children who have a specific phobia have an intense fear of a circumstance that poses no real danger. Phobias are common among young children and usually not debilitating. In most cases they are outgrown and do not require treatment. However, if a specific phobia in a child becomes debilitating or interferes in the normal daily routine or success at school and with peers, it may require treatment

OCD in Children

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the most debilitating forms of an anxiety disorder in children in children. OCD consists of constant obsessions (worry thoughts) and compulsions (worry rituals) that cause children who have a great deal of trouble functioning. It makes their day to day life and your life exhausting

PTSD and other Trauma Reactions

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a reaction we see in some children who have experienced a trauma where they felt there life or someone else’s was in danger. Essentially PTSD can consist of flashbacks to the trauma, avoidance of things that remind the child of the trauma, disturbed sleep and nightmares and physical symptoms of heightened arousal when reminded of the trauma. Post traumatic stress disorder is often associated with or sexual abuse sexual abuse.

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Medical information obtained from our website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.