Its typically normal for any child to experience anxiety and it’s a phase that comes and goes. There are those that suffer from anxiety disorder that are characterized with shyness, fear and nervousness. They’ll just stop visiting some places or avoid some activities that they enjoyed previously.
Anxiety has been proved to be one of the most common mental health issues in both the adults and children. It’s very easy for the condition to go unnoticed in kids and teenagers, since they can hide it by being quiet and obedient. For this reason they will not get the help they urgently need. For this reason, this can lead to future problem like depression, relationships, career, drug issues and their overall life will be a mess.
Most parents will tell you they saw early signs but did not recognize them as anxiety problems, others thought they would grow out of it and become normal like other kids. Most parents are often confused when this problem arises and they start suffering just like the kid, with frustration and too much to think about which is overwhelming.
Anxiety can be managed and treated if signs are seen early, but most parents are not aware their kids are suffering. If they’re aware of the issue they have a role to play in helping the child manage the problem and live comfortably with confidence and without fear.
We embarked on a small research through the reddit forum to find out how parents and children cope with this issue. This is the question we asked on different subreddits.
Physical Symptoms And How They Were Treated
Surprising, we got our first two answers from a 15 year old with the name jv080199 and a 17 year old known as Hexomin. This is what we discussed from the first subreddit. http://www.reddit.com/r/Anxiety/comments/31m1gd/helping_a_child_deal_with_anxiety_issues/
The first answer came from someone that suffered anxiety from childhood and he gave us some of the symptoms he experienced and how he coped with the problem. We must say, the response was great.
I (17M) have had severe anxiety ever since I was a child, and have been on medication since I was 14.
Many of my symptoms when I was young were physical. Unexplained headaches, nausea, trouble breathing, dizziness, etc. I missed quite a bit of school because of these symptoms. I also had attacks fairly often, where I would break down crying and couldn’t be calmed down by anyone. I just had to wait for it to pass. Additionally, I had bizarre compulsions and fears, such as always having to be on time for everything, and being afraid of strangers. Not having any friends didn’t help. Whether this can be attributed to the anxiety, I don’t know. I also have Aspergers, so social relationships have always been a challenge.
For me, medication has been huge. When I was 13, I became severely depressed, mainly as a result of my anxiety. Therapy did absolutely nothing for me, but as soon as I went on medication (celexa), my mood improved and my anxiety lessened. I went off the medication after about a year and a half on the advice of my doctor, and the anxiety came back. I went back on, but it didn’t help anywhere near enough this time. Ultimately, I began a downward spiral which ended with me being hospitalized for severe anxiety, depression and anorexia.
I’m on zoloft now, and I’m recovering well. My anxiety is much decreased, and my mood is almost back to normal. Eating is still a struggle, but my weight is at least stable. Without medication, I would probably be dead. With it, I’m able to lead a mostly normal life.
Our next respondent was a 15 year old, that gave us his experience too, and engaged him a little to find out more about the breathing issue experienced during an anxiety attack in some kids.
I am a child (15) and my experience with anxiety is just living through it, no MEDs, no other help besides friends. The best thing I’ve done, is made friends. Just talking and getting it off my chest helps me forget. Deep breaths help with anxiety attacks. I literally laid in bed one day for 20 minutes focusing on breathing. I don’t recommend MEDs imo. You want a child to be a strong person in their future. Not a person who can’t get through a day unless they take a pill. “Dunno” if this helps, but I’m still a child so that’s my experience. If you have any specific questions go ahead and ask I didn’t really know what to say.
We discussed a little bit.
Thanks a lot. Your answer was right on. From your answer I’m getting you experience shortness of breath and that’s why you focus on your breathing. Do they come with pain in the chest? Are there any other physical symptoms you can point out? I’m looking forward to learning more from you.
This was his answer.
My problem with breathing happens when I try to sleep. I try to have a calm 4-7-8 breathing technique, but my heart continues to race and my breathing becomes shallow. This leads to another bad anxiety symptom from me. I’m afraid to sleep. I just can not stop thinking about random things and I pretty much only sleep when I’m physically exhausted. I feel drained from this often and I think I need to see a doctor. Chest pains happen to me, but not in anxious situations. I don’t really know what causes them. My anxiety is weird. I’m very strong minded. I can say no to things that I’ve been doing for years. Just today my friends had a joint (yes, I smoke weed; it helped, but I abused it and now it triggers anxiety) and I just said no I won’t smoke. I told my mom I’m quitting so I will.
But yeah, everyone has different anxiety symptoms so there are different ways to cope with it. For me, it’s just having self control, and talking about it to my parents. It takes a lot of strength, but I think not being on MEDs helped me get there through the years. Every day you get stronger, even when you’re in the deepest worst position you can be in, you just have to get through it.
Then we took the same question to this subreddit. http://www.reddit.com/r/daddit/comments/31rcyn/attending_to_our_kids_with_anxiety/. Having suffered at one time and working with kids suffering from anxiety, he provided a perfect answer. I’m assuming, its a He because its a daddit group. This is what user murphymoose had to say on the thread below.
Hi there! I have had an anxiety disorder, since about age three. Symptoms I had were all based around attachment and a fear of being left alone. As I got older the anxiety changed and became more general with a strong social component. I have been on the medication Fluvoxamine (luvox) for about two years after having tried 5 other medications, but everyone has different side effects and no MEDs are guaranteed. Hope this helps!
Other Ways of Helping Children Cope With The Issue
Thanks for the response. Now that you’re a parent, what signs should parents look out for in kids suffering from anxiety, bearing in mind some are too young to even communicate what they’re feeling? What other ways do you think can help a child to deal with the problem.
Not a parent, sorry for the confusion, I was just adding my two cents! In any event, I work with a lot of young kids with anxiety, and the biggest thing when working with kids who are too young to articulate their fears is to recognize their anxiety before they do. In any unfamiliar situation, realize that there is potential for a panic attack and make sure you have solutions that work for them. Common examples of this are a toy that makes the child feel safe or having a quiet area to escape to if the situation becomes overwhelming.
What Symptoms Parents Have Seen With Their Children
Finally we found our first parent that gave us a whole lot of symptoms to look out for and remedies used in treating her child.
My kiddo just started Zoloft for anxiety. It’s a tiny dose to start mellowing her out so she can work on coping skills with an occupational therapist. Symptoms of anxiety? Thumb sucking, hair twisting/pulling, sleep issues, lack of focus and/or concentration, argumentative behaviors and mood swings. Hope this is helpful.
We did engage them further.
“ Thanks for sharing. Have you tried any natural remedies before the decision to put her on Zoloft was made? ”
I did! We tried to calm forte, meditation, mindfulness practice, and other natural supplement who’s name escapes me now. Meditation seems to help with the sleep issues, but nothing else helped at all. When it got to the point that her anxiety was interfering with school I had to look into MEDs. Ideally, she’ll only be on them for 6-12 months.
We also got another response with SiriusHertz that shared their experience with their step daughter on a different subreddit. Below is the link to the subreddit.
My 12-year-old stepdaughter has clinical general anxiety disorder, among other anxiety disorders including OCD. She’s currently on her second inpatient stay at a mental hospital while we try to adjust her MEDs to account for her changing biochemistry. She’s been anxious since birth, although it took us a while to figure out how deep the rabbit hole went. Are you asking about the anxiety that goes to 11, or are you asking about the more common, “I’m afraid our house will burn down while I’m asleep” type of anxiety?
We really are sad for the experience List Wellness do wish her a stepdaughter a quick recovery. We recorgnise its very hard for them right now. We sort to know if they took her for an anxiety disorder test and the first signs they discovered with her.
One of her teachers called us and told us she had essentially stopped eating at school. She weighed about 60 lbs and was a little under 5′ tall – 4’10” if memory serves. After a lot of trying to figure out what was going on and visiting a ton of different doctors, we figured out she had anorexia at age 10. Then all we had to do was convince the doctors we were right – not easy, as the generally-accepted view of eating disorders is that they affect older teens – and the insurance company, before we could get her into the first inpatient unit for a 3-month stay.
Once we began to understand anorexia, we quickly saw that many of her other behavior patterns were also anxiety-related or caused. We’d seen an upswing in odd behavior – panic attacks, excessive grooming and preoccupation with appearance, constant dissatisfaction with things like how her room was arranged – a few months before, so for a lot of things it wasn’t a huge leap. Others, like her intense separation anxiety going back to age 2/3, were a little more difficult to accept as anxiety, just because of how long we had been missing the signs.
Then when we were just calling it a wrap another parent responded on this thread. http://www.reddit.com/r/SingleParents/comments/31rbac/attending_to_our_kids_with_anxiety/. This is what she contributed.
My youngest has anxiety related to extreme phobia. Evidently, he had a near-drowning at some point (no one ‘fessed up to when, we suspect a baby sitter) and became pathologically afraid of water. He was so hydrophobic at 2-3, he’d become a shaky mess at the prospect of walking outside in the rain.
He’s eight now with very few symptoms. It took years of submersion therapy: starting with him sitting the hall way BY the bathroom, while I ran bath water we worked through what he was feeling. Over time, he got closer and closer as he felt comfortable. The first time I got him in a pool, his hand clenched and he dug his nails into my skin, but he knew it was important.
When he feels anxious (always water related, otherwise, he’s a confident, out-going kid) we talk about it and practice breathing and visualization. These methods may not be right for every kid with anxiety but it works for him. He can now bathe alone (I have to be around though, like in the next room and no more than 5″ of water), he’ll go into the pool alone (with a life vest and he still does not swim – we’re working on it), and he’ll play at the beach (life vest on, not even a toe in the water).
I would have used medications if we hadn’t seen progress. However, phobia-related anxiety is easier to treat than general anxiety.
A Parent ought to be very keen with their kids’ behavior to pick out anxiety disorder and you they have to travel that difficult road together with their children and they should be able to discuss with the doctor on what remedy to use so that to help the child cope with anxiety.
“List Wellness do thank all those that participated in this research.”