|Childhood Mental Health: Anxiety Disorders|
Anxiety is considered abnormal when it occurs in situations that most
people can deal with, without too much difficulty. Anxiety disorders refers
to a wide range of disorders where anxiety is the main symptom ( Generalised
anxiety and panic disorders ) or is
experienced when the individual attempts to control certain maladaptive
behaviours ( phobias and obsessive-compulsive
Post-traumatic stress disorder is another anxiety disorder, which
involves anxiety following a traumatic event.
Separation anxiety also comes under this group of disorders.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems that occur
in children and adolescents. According to one large-scale study of 9 to
17 year olds, (Methods for the Epidemiology of Child and Adolescent Mental
Disorders; MECA), as many as 13% of young people had an anxiety disorder
in a year.
[ 1 ]
Symptoms and Signs
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder . Symptoms
include exaggerated worry and tension over everyday events.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder ( OCD ).
Characterised by intrusive, unwanted, repetitive thoughts and rituals
performed out of a feeling of urgent need; at least one-third of adult
cases begins in childhood.
- Panic Disorder . Characterised by feelings
of extreme fear and dread that strike unexpectedly and repeatedly for
no apparent reason, often accompanied by intense physical symptoms,
such as chest pain, pounding heart, shortness of breath, dizziness,
or abdominal distress.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
A condition that can occur after exposure to a terrifying event, most
often characterised by the repeated re-experience of the ordeal in the
form of frightening, intrusive memories, and brings on hypervigilance
and deadening of normal emotions.
- Phobias . 2 types:
1. Social phobia , extreme fear of embarrassment
or being scrutinised;
2. Specific phobia , excessive fear
of an object or situation, such as dogs, heights, loud sounds, flying,
costumed characters, enclosed spaces, etc.
- Other . Other anxiety disorders include:
Separation anxiety , excessive anxiety
concerning separation from the home or from those to whom the person
is most attached. Some degree of separation anxiety is normal and occurs
in almost all children, especially in infants and toddlers. In contrast,
separation anxiety disorder is excessive anxiety that goes beyond that
expected for the child's developmental level. Some life stress, such
as the death of a relative, friend, or pet or a geographic move or change
in schools, usually triggers the disorder.
Selective mutism , persistent failure to
speak in specific social situations.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Various forms of ,
including and family therapy, as well as certain medications, particularly
selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are used to treat anxiety
disorders in children and adolescents. Research on the safety and efficacy
of these treatments is ongoing.
The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken
from the following source(s):
National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov
(def;articles & more)