Today’s fast paced life and increasing stress have led to a rise in mental illnesses worldwide. Even children are not immune from this; suffering from anxiety disorders, depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), and many more.  A study conducted in 2009 states that the overall childhood and adolescent mental illness in India was between 6% to 15%, respectively.

What does anxiety mean in children?

Social life of children and societal pressure, nowadays, has made them the victims of anxiety disorders, one of the most common mental health disorders.  Anxiety is feeling uneasy, tensed and uncomfortable in any situation. When the feeling spirals out of control and the child is feeling anxious and troubled constantly, it may point to an anxiety disorder. The disorder may be generalized or it might get triggered by certain situations like stress for a test, or moving away from parents. It may manifest as a phobia or a fear of something. Children around puberty are considered especially prone to anxiety. Social factors, schooling and the environment the child is in also affects anxiety.

Two psychologists in Thiruvananthapuram found that 56.8% of students went through anxiety, in one form or another.

Although it is daunting, anxiety can be controlled.

How can it be identified?

Some common symptoms of anxiety include –

  • Nervousness or feeling tensed
  • Worrying constantly
  • Fear
  • Crying
  • Frequent anger or irritation
  • Not eating properly
  • Sleeplessness or disturbed sleep (insomnia)
  • Nightmares
  • Stomach aches
  • Headaches
  • Shyness

Children may face anxiety or panic related to parental separation, school work or even social interaction.

How to treat it?

The atmosphere in the house and the family’s behavior has effects on the child. Offering the children comfort and love can help them overcome their feelings. Empathizing with them, and talking to them about their fears and worries will help them relax. Staying calm and helping to manage the situation in case of a bad anxiety attack can help calm the child as well.  Appreciation for progress can motivate the child and boost his or her confidence. Avoiding any negative influence and extending support to the child at all times is a good approach. Increased play time can also help diminish anxiety.

In extreme cases, counselling can be a great help. Anxiety can be treated and often is controlled by the time the child grows up.

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