“Anxiety” is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave, and they can manifest (create) real physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating and have a serious impact on your day-to-day functioning.
People often experience a general state of worry or fear before confronting something challenging such as a test, examination, recital, or interview. These feelings of being anxious are easily justified and considered normal. Anxiety is considered a problem when it interferes with a person’s ability to sleep or perform regular daily activities. Generally speaking, anxiety occurs when the emotional and physical reactions are out of proportion with what might be expected in a certain situation.
Most people consider anxiety to be a problem when it causes significant distress or interference for the child or the family.
If your child is experiencing significant difficulty attending school, fulfilling school responsibilities, making or keeping friends, participating in social and extracurricular activities, managing reasonable expectations of parents at home, sleeping at night and/or rising in the morning, these could be signs of an anxiety disorder. Click here for physical signs of anxiety.
Sometimes the behaviors of anxious children and teens can seem unreasonable to others. These children and teens are often labeled as “difficult,” “stubborn,” or “too sensitive.” It is important to remember that an anxious child or teen who lashes out, cries, and avoids situations is, in fact, responding instinctively to a perceived threat or fear. Your child may be reacting by fighting (yelling or tantrums), fleeing (avoiding), and/or freezing (mind going blank/shutting down).
Click here for information and free resources on anxiety in children, youth, and young adults.
Where can you turn to get an accurate assessment …. [describe what kind of therapist provides]
What may be recommended …. [describe what treatments/responses are typically available]
What are good questions and services for you to ask for …. [advice to parents on what to advocate for]
Following an assessment, your child may be given a diagnosis or the doctor or therapist may recommend some treatment options. A formal diagnosis can be helpful in helping you to access services in your school and get treatments paid for by your insurance, but it is not always necessary in order to start treatment.
IEP (individualized education plan) and 504 accommodations:
For school-aged children and youth, anxiety disorders are likely to interfere with functioning successfully at school. …info on 504 and IEP…
IMPORTANT REMINDER: While we tend to seek a specific “diagnosis” or singular reason for our child’s struggles so that we can develop a “solution” or know how to “treat,” oftentimes, a simple or straightforward “answer” is not available. Your child may be experiencing signs and symptoms that cross the borders of the boxes we label as learning disability, mental health condition, developmental disability, or physical disability and taking a wider approach to your response is both wise and compassionate.