What does anxiety look like in children?

Most children will experience normal fears or worries throughout childhood. Children and adolescents with anxiety disorders have significant fears or worries that have a negative impact on their daily functioning. You may become concerned when your child’s worries control your family’s behaviors or activities. You might be concerned because your child is having issues sleeping, attending school or going places, or talking and playing with others due to their fears.

Common symptoms of anxiety in children are:

  • Specific fears and phobias

  • Excessive shyness or fears with speaking to others

  • Fears of parents dying or leaving

  • Fears of intruders

  • Difficulty sleeping in their own bed or separating from parents

  • Intrusive and unwanted thoughts and compulsive behaviors

  • Intense fears following a traumatic event

  • Significant and unexpected anxiety attacks that seemingly come out of nowhere

What does depression look like in children?

Depression in children and adolescents often occurs along with excessive worries and fears. You  may associate depression with excessive crying and sadness, which can occur in some children. However other symptoms that frequently are seen in children who suffer from depression are:

  • Irritability

  • Anger

  • Mood swings

  • Feeling tired

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Eating too little or too much

  • Withdrawing from social activities and preferring to be alone

  • Thoughts of death or suicide

  • Low self-esteem

  • Hopeless thoughts about the future or no vision for the future

How do you test for anxiety or depression?

Testing for anxiety and depression includes thorough interviews with parents and children/adolescents. We also have children and adolescents complete rating scales regarding their own feelings and attitudes. Additionally, we have parents and teachers complete behavior/emotional rating scales to determine the severity of the symptoms.

Why is testing for anxiety and depression important? 

Treatment for symptoms of anxiety and depression can be effective. It is important to identify what types of anxiety or depressive symptoms are most troubling for children and adolescents and to make a plan to effectively treat symptoms. For instance, treatments to address obsessions and compulsions will differ from treatments to address separation anxiety, so it is important to correctly identify the concern to provide the most effective treatment possible.

What does treatment for anxiety and depression look like?  

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a scientifically-based intervention to effectively treat symptoms of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents. Children and parents learn how to identify automatic negative and anxious thought patterns and learn more realistic and positive ways of coping. They then apply these skills while engaging in normal life activities again. Contact us for more information and to determine if your child would be a good fit for treatment.