Child Anxiety Attacks
Just like adults, children experience fear, anxiety and apprehension. These are but normal emotional experiences that a person feels regardless of age. However, if anxiety becomes irrational, recurring and severe, and anxiety attacks happen without any apparent reason, and the reaction is disproportionate to the problem at hand, it can be a cause of concern. This is why on the first signs of problem, have your child get proper diagnosis by a health professional to be able to rule out any possible causes and determine the right treatment to be applied.
Child Anxiety Disorder
Since anxiety attack is a type of anxiety disorder, it is important to know what happens to a child who is suffering from such disorder. To be able to identify it in your child, here are the following symptoms:
Child anxiety attack symptoms:
Different children of different ages or even of the same age may manifest different anxiety symptoms. Moreover, some of the symptoms given may be considered as a normal behavior of a child. Thus it is a bit tricky to determine if he or she is really having an attack or not. What should be done is to recognize these symptoms and consider them as a reason of concern, then help your child deal with these attacks through the following:
Seek help from health professional – Effectively stopping child anxiety attacks begins with recognition and followed by a compete diagnosis from your medical doctor. A full medical examination should be administered in order to rule out any other physical causes unrelated to anxiety. Doctors usually give prescription medications to help relieve anxiety symptoms. If applicable, SSRI antidepressants may be needed for a long term solution. For a more severe case, doctors may refer the child to a psychologist.
Self-help techniques – Parents may seek the help of books available for treating child anxiety. This is also very effective in teaching parents strategies for responsible parenting, which improve parent-child relationship and help build child self-confidence and self-esteem.
Play therapy – is the child version of exposure therapy. As an effective child anxiety treatment, play therapy uses the power of play to simulate each fearful situation in a controlled environment, which then helps the child face the problem and come up with a solution.
Herbal medicines – is proven and effective means of treating child anxiety attacks and other types of anxiety disorder. Some of the commonly recommended remedies include passionflower, valerian, scuttelaria laterifolia (scullcap), California poppy, Melissa officinalis, hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort), hops and lavender.
Causes of Child Anxiety Attacks
Child anxiety, just like that of adults, is a normal, healthy emotion felt as a response to certain stimuli. But when anxiety symptoms becomes recurring, irrational and intense, it may be considered as a disorder. Episodes of anxiety attacks can disable the child from performing his daily duties in school and at home. And while it is generally safe, these attacks can affect how the child lives.
Since children are more fragile, they are more vulnerable to such attacks and the effects of these attacks may be more severe than to adults. But what causes anxiety attacks? Here are some of the most common reasons of child anxiety attacks:
School Phobia and Separation Anxiety
When a child reaches a certain age, he or she develops school phobia. The exact reason for this is still unknown, but what happens is, the child becomes excessively afraid of going to school. A child manifests this fear by creating reasons and complaining ailments such as toothaches, headache, and stomach cramps to keep him or her from going to school. School phobia is often linked to child separation anxiety, but the latter can manifest to situations other than in school (e.g. being with a group of people or joining other family for the weekend).
Again, the exact reason for this is unknown. Separation anxiety is excessive fear of being away from someone whom the child is comfortable being with, symptoms of separation anxiety are similar to school phobia.
Stress is linked to child anxiety attack symptoms. It may be a result of heavy responsibilities at home and in school, unfinished tasks, physical and psychological abuse, a school bully, environment that is unfit for the child's age, violence, etc.
Change in lifestyle
A child creates friends in school and in the neighborhood. These friends would make him or her feel comfortable and accepted. So when the family moves to another place or to a different school, a child loses the friends and comfort he or she has established and forces him or her to start all over again. If the child cannot cope with this stressful situation, it can lead to episodes of anxiety attack.
In many cases, child anxiety attacks just come out of the blue, or happen without any logical, clear or apparent reason. It may occur while the child is relaxed during the day and even while asleep. This may only happen only once. Perhaps, an anxiety attack is brought about by unresolved internal issues, which are not directly connected with the trigger. For example, a child who experiences a death of a loved one may panic whenever a certain, almost similar situation happens. The traumatic experience that he or she went through in the past which are not processed properly can come out, in this case through an attack.
A child may also show signs and symptoms of anxiety attacks because the problem at hand reminded him or her about family conflicts. Fighting in the family as well as divorce of parents may be traumatic to a child,so that when witnessing a similar situation, he or she goes into a panic. Take note that there is no single reason (and it takes several factors) for a child to have an anxiety attack, but whatever it is, what's important is how do deal with it properly.
Symptoms Child Anxiety Attacks
Children anxiety disorders are common, but the exact number of sufferers is unknown, most likely because the condition is often under-diagnosed, undiagnosed or unreported. While it is very treatable with good, persistent medical care, medical experts agree that anxiety problems during childhood (when misjudged and overlooked) will likely to persist as an adult psychiatric disorder. In other words, early manifestations of anxiety through anxiety attacks during childhood must be addressed as early as possible hence, reducing the chances of developing into an adult version.
Through the following symptoms, you can detect that a child is a possible candidate of a specific type of anxiety disorder or if the child is undergoing another episode of anxiety attack.
Child Anxiety and Separation
Separation anxiety is very common among children when they reach school age. They exhibit unreasoned fear and panic at being separated from their parents or their home during school time. Symptoms include crying and begging not to go to school. It is also possible that a child complains stomach aches, headaches, toothaches, and other maladies that would keep him from going to school. Alternately, a child will show a demeanor when at home or during the company of parents.
Social phobia is almost the opposite of separation anxiety. A child may choose stay home alone or keep separated from parents. Social phobia can push children to stay away from peers as they feel that they are different from other kids or that they have clothes or hair style that are apart from the interest of other kids. A child with social phobia may choose to read a book rather than to go to summer camp or any activity that involves mingling with others.
Fear of Performing
Performance anxiety can be closely linked to social anxiety. A child who does not play good sports may show signs of fear during physical education class. A child with poor reading skills or cannot perform simple mathematical equation may panic and become anxious when called to recite for the class or solve a problem on the board.
Generalized child anxiety disorder is characterized by chronic worry or fear over almost everything without any apparent reason. Symptoms of GAD are very similar to what adults would experience. Patients with GAD may complain about stomach upset, fatigue, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping. In addition, a child may throw tantrums, may cry, have nightmares, may be keyed up and even begin to show problems in school that were not present before.
What causes anxiety to children?
There are many studies supporting that child anxiety attack symptoms is genetically acquired. Parents, for example, who manifest anxiety, will likely have anxious and nervous children. This condition can be learned as well. It is possible that a child develops anxiety disorder after a bad experience – ridiculed by classmates, victim of bullies in school, or making a mistake in front of the class. Separation of parents, abuse, death of a loved one or any traumatic experiences can lead to anxiety disorder as well. Fear of being alone, is afraid of the dark or afraid of certain animals may be reflections of events with bad memories.
Behaviors during anxiety attacks and symptoms of anxiety disorders are similar to other psychological, physical and behavioral condition. It is important, therefore, to seek professional help to be able to rule out other reasons and provide the right treatment to the patient.
Teen Anxiety Attacks: Signs, Symptoms and Remedies
All teens, just like any adult, feel anxious from time to time as a normal reaction to stressors. Going on a date, speaking in public, meeting new people, competing in sports, performing on stage, and taking exams are some of the things that make us feel apprehensive. However, some teens experience severe anxiety than others. Some even feel severe anxiety by just thinking about the situation that has yet to happen. And when someone experiences episodes of panics or develops irrational fear over certain events or problems, it is known as anxiety attack.
What are the available remedies for child anxiety attacks?
Severe cases of child anxiety attacks may require prescription drugs to control or reduce its symptoms. Prescription drugs may be antidepressants and benzodiazepines. Antidepressants may take some weeks to take effect so it is important to continuously take medications and not just during an attack. Benzodiazepines, on the other hand, have quick relief effects, usually within 30 minutes, but they are highly addictive, thus it should be used with caution. Remember that medication should not be the first treatment option as there are other effective ways to combat the effects of anxiety.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective ways to treat child anxiety attacks or any anxiety disorder for that matter. CBT focuses on the thinking pattern of the patients and replaces negative thoughts with positive ones. Exposure therapy exposes the person to the physical sensations of panic in a safe and controlled environment. Through repeated exposure, patients gain greater self-control and more confidence in facing fearful situation.
Proper diet, regular exercise and sufficient sleep bring balance to the body, which help reduce the episodes of anxiety attacks. Massage, aromatherapy, relaxation and breathing techniques promote wellness, relax muscles and ease muscle tension. Herbal treatments naturally relieve stress and restlessness associated with anxiety, thus solving anxiety problem. Thinking positively and talking to a supportive person help stop the occurrence of child anxiety attacks.