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GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER IN CHILDREN AND TEEN

A small amount of anxiety is a part of a child’s life such as fear of the dark, strangers, loud noises and these are common fears faced by teens or children however if they start to experience prolonged anxiety and fears across their areas of life then considering GAD is of prime importance.

GAD is a mental health problem, a child suffering from GAD has a lot of tensions and worries with no certain real reasons behind it, their fears and stress are more intense than it seems to be, they usually worry about their: physical appearance, future events, family matters, failures, and school performance.

CAUSES OF GAD IN CHILDREN AND TEEN

Based on several types of research of GAD in teens and children, there is no single confirmed identified source that could cause this mental disorder to develop in them, however, environmental factors, family dynamics, life experiences, and neurobiological factors may emerge as a cause to develop anxiety and fears among children.

MALTREATMENT  

Children or teens who face or suffer from harsh and challenging life experiences or are a victim of maltreatment have a higher risk of developing GAD. These situations leave a scar on them which makes them uncertain of people and their surroundings, making them insecure and unsafe.

Humiliation, difficult challenges, and abandonment are some common causes that might develop prolonged stress and anxiety among all age groups even in elderly  

PUBERTY

Additional pressures and feelings of self-consciousness associated with puberty might exacerbate anxiety. Frustrations with social interactions and school achievement can lead to greater worry about being embarrassed in front of peers, as well as thoughts of disappointing parents or teachers.

BULLYING AND SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

Find out their activities in school, on social media, and their relationships, mostly youngsters get tensed and stressed up due to the pressures they face in their routine life. Bullying both in person and on social media is a serious problem faced by most children and is a prime factor in developing fears and anxiety, these fears can lead to disappointments and failure.

 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF GAD

Teens and children suffering from GAD experience extreme, unrealistic worry, and fear about every event in their life, unlike adults and elderly with GAD, children often don’t realize that their fears and anxiety are more intense and require more encouragement from adults in their life.

Symptoms may differ for each child however the most common ones are listed below:

  • The tension of things before they happen
  • Worries related to school, friends, and different activities
  • Stomach aches, headaches, and muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Clingy behaviors
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritation and inability to relax
  • Restlessness

HOW TO DIAGNOSE GAD

It is vital to get your child assessed by a competent mental health provider to ensure that your child is correctly diagnosed and treated. Some clinicians specialize in working with children and teens, as well as those who are trained to treat anxiety disorders. They do a complete mental health assessment of your child including emotional and social history, interviews with you and your child, and some standard tests.

TREATMENT AND REMEDIES FOR GAD

Children and teens with GAD can’t recover themselves on their own, they often require treatment, and if left untreated it gets worse and becomes a long-term mental issue. The treatment and remedies depend on the symptoms and age of the affected. Following are some remedies that you can opt to treat your child: 

COUNSELLING A PSYCHOTHERAPIST

Taking your child to a psychotherapist for physiotherapy is of grave importance while treating GAD, the counseling session helps children and teens to open up easily and share what they are feeling as they are aloof from the fear of judgment, rejection or feeling dismissed. The sessions will help them to develop, different relaxation techniques, positive self-talk, identify their fears, and enhance their skills like socializing.

COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY

This teaches a child how to deal with anxiety more effectively. The purpose is also to assist a youngster in overcoming situations that may cause anxiety.

MEDICATION

A child facing mild to moderate anxiety issues and has few symptoms of GAD then medication is not necessary however if this severity increases from moderate to intense level, then opting for medicines is a solution for reducing the intensity of this anxiety disorder. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are more commonly prescribed medicines that tend to work best among children and teens to reduce their intense levels of stress and anxiety. The best SSRI used for the treatment of GAD are Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft.  

 

LOWERING DOWN THE PACE

Anxiety keeps us absorbed in the “what ifs” of the future, and it might prevent us from living in the present. It can be beneficial to slow down the process with deliberate and calm action. Mindfulness exercises, prayers, meditations, gradual relaxation, and breathing exercises can all help your child’s anxious thoughts and emotional responses to settle down.

SOCIALIZING

Anxiety can cause children and teenagers to withdraw from their friends and family members. Allow your child to connect with others by providing opportunities for him or her to spend time with family and enjoy each other’s company by playing games, going outside together, or discovering a shared interest.

Volunteering in the community can also be a great method to keep your youngster connected with others. Allow them to explore and identify something about which they are enthusiastic, and then assist them in finding similar volunteer opportunities in the community.

SELF-CARE

Your child’s well-being is influenced by his or her sleeping habits, eating habits, and physical activity. Your kid may have difficulties with sleep or physical activity as a result of their anxiety, especially if they experience restlessness, muscle tension, or exhaustion. Helping your child develop a self-care plan can help them cope with anxiety and learn to manage stress more efficiently.

 TIPS FOR PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS  

Recognizing anxiety is the first step in helping your child manage and conquer it, but this can be tough. GAD-affected children can be quiet, shy, and cautious at times. They may be very obedient to grownups and eager to please them.

A worried youngster, on the other hand, may act out by throwing tantrums, sobbing, avoiding, or disobedience. When anxiety attacks, these behaviors can be misconstrued as oppositional and difficult.

As a caregiver, you should be aware of some of the symptoms of extreme anxiety in children. You’ll be better equipped to intervene early and get the support you need if you have a better grasp of generalized anxiety disorder. Early diagnosis and treatment of GAD can make a huge difference in your child’s life and prevent further anxiety disorders to develop.

VERDICT

GAD is an emerging mental disorder among children and teens and is most often ignored, it should never be left untreated or prolonged as it can create other mental disorders in children leading to disasters for them in the future. Listening to them, finding their activities, and the more you indulge with them the more they will ease on opening up with you.