CHILDHOOD Anxiety is a
ARE YOU WORRIED?
We all worry from time to time, however it becomes a problem when the anxiety persists. It becomes clinically
significant when it impedes daily functioning. It is a common disorder experienced by children but is often
undiagnosed and under reported.
In DSM-IV Anxiety Disorder refers to a activities. It is difficult to control the worry. it
number of overlapping subcategories including: causes clinically significant distress and
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder impairment in social, academic or other areas of
with or without agoraphobia, Post Traumatic function.
Stress Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Associated behaviour : Restlessness, feeling
Disorder, Social Phobia, Specific phobia, on edge, poor concentration, fatigue, irritability,
Separation anxiety disorder and Acute Stress muscle tension, sleep disturbance.
Disorder Persistence: at least 6 months.
It has a prevalence rate of 2-10% and occurs
The most common of these are: with ADHD (but with less impulsivity) in about
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder 20-24% of cases.
- Social Phobia Mean onset: at age 9 but often occurs earlier as
- Separation Anxiety Disorder well. These disorders overlap, so something
that might begin as generalized anxiety disorder
This leaflet will describe these three categories might become more specifically described as a
of the disorder including their definitions, social phobia.
associated behaviour, persistence before
Generalized anxiety disorder: a
diagnosis. There will be a generalized list of
persistent and excessive anxiety
treatment and management strategies.
and worry about a number of
Generalized Anxiety Disorder redefined in
events or activities.
DSM-IV as a persistent and excessive anxiety
and worry about a number of events or
Social Phobia: the persistent fear of one or - Work on strategies to help them keep
more social or performance situations where Anxiety attacks are painful their cool.
exposure to unfamiliar people or scrutiny from
others may occur. The child should be able to
and embarrassing - provide students with a safe area in the
classroom or the school
Students will engage in behaviours to avoid the
have age - appropriate relationships with - Consistent behaviour management
occurrence of an attack such as avoiding
familiar people but the anxiety will manifest - Collaboration between all staff
people, joining “tough” groups, thrill seeking
itself in peer and adult settings. - A safe place and safe person at school
and engaging in substance use thus treatment
Associated behaviours - crying, tantrums, who they can talk to
and management should focus on reducing the
freezing, shrinking from unfamiliar people.
effect of the anxiety inducing situation.
Individuals facing experiencing social phobia
engage in behaviour that enable the avoidance
of the situation. Thus the crying or tantrum or Professionally offered options:
“meltdown” may occur just before the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
particular social or performance situation. where one works on changing the automatic
[Note: Selective mutism seems to be an thoughts and feelings resulting from their
expression of social phobia as it allows the thoughts about the anxiety. Therapy also
involves learning techniques that reduce or
child to avoid the social performance of talking
replace the negative behaviour patterns.
Psychotherapy focuses on the resolution
Mean onset: start of high school but, may not
of conflicts and stresses
have have been recognised earlier.
Behavioural therapy concentrates on
Persistence: at least 6 months
techniques such as guided imagery,
Separation Anxiety Disorder describes the relaxation training, progressive
anxiety when separation from an attachment desensitization and flooding as a way to
figure occurs or is expected. it includes worry reduce anxiety responses or address
that something bad will happen to the specific phobias as in certain social
attachment figure or that something will lead to situations.
separation from the attachment figure.
Associated Behaviours include being fearful
and reluctance to be alone (excessive
Management at Home and
clinginess), as well as tummy aches, child School should focus on identifying and
crying, a pre-occupation with reunion with the eliminating or reducing the source of anxiety.
attachment figure, headaches, nausea, truancy,
- The child can keep a diary of current
isolation and feelings of fear.
worries and regularly review their
Mean Onset: It occurs most commonly with
concerns with a helpful and patient adult.
infants and toddlers but sometimes happens
Retrospective analysis such as this can
with older individuals.
help desensitize the student to the
Persistence: at least 4 weeks before being
anxiety inducing concern or and help
alleviate the pattern of anxiety.
DIAGNOSIS - If the specific anxiety is known, students
should practice the task whether it’s a
If you should suspect that a student is test or a performance.
experiencing significant anxiety, refer the - Establish a safe environment within the
student to the in school team so that he or she classroom; avoid causing public
embarrassment to any student. Students with
can be diagnostically evaluated preferably by a parents with
multidisciplinary team of professionals. - Praise the child for the things they do anxiety
Evaluation might include a questionnaire as well, play up their competencies, find disorder are
well as an interview in which the professional ways and roles whereby the student can more likely to
observes the student as he or she responds. feel needed. AVOID FALSE PRAISE! develop
• John, S.C.F. (2005). Distinguishing
Anxiety can be treated Anxiety in Childhood: clinical and cognitive • http://helpguide.org/mental/generaliz
easily through consistent treatment characteristics (Doctoral dissertation). ed_anxiety_disorder.htm
thus reducing development into more Available from Dissertations and Theses
serious and debilitating adult mental database. (UMI No. 0494076798)
disorders. As students with parents • Levine, M, Educational Care, atment.htm
with anxiety disorder are more likely to Educators Publishing Service, 1994
develop an anxiety disorder, the best
course of treatment would include a
component of family therapy as well as • http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/wel
therapy for the parent in question. come/conditions/anxiety_disorders.ht
Sources and helpful links: ml