General Anxiety Disorder In Children: What You Need To Know

General anxiety disorder (GAD) in children often requires counseling and treatment from a child therapist. Children suffering from GAD will often experience anxiety and worry over a wide range of issues. This may include worry over their health and the health of loved ones, school, world events and the future. The anxiety often leads to problems such as headaches, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, stomach aches and difficulty concentrating. The first step in controlling GAD is to recognize the symptoms, then seek treatment from a counselor or therapist who specializes in mental health issues affecting children at a mental health hospital.

Recognizing the Symptoms of GAD in Your Child

If your child has generalized anxiety disorder, his or her worrying may seem uncontrollable and excessive. If you believe your child may have GAD, here are the symptoms to be alerted to:

  • Constant and Excessive Concern About the Future: The child with GAD may be excessively worried about future events, such as an upcoming test or recital. He or she may often worry about being losing a parent in the near future. The child may worry about an upcoming move to a new town and school.

  • Worrying About the Past: The child may constantly think about unpleasant things that happened in the past, and how it may affect his or her in the present.

  • Peer Pressure: Children with GAD often worry about being liked and accepted by their peers.

  • Worry About Their Ability to Accomplish Their Goals: The child with GAD may worry excessively over their struggle in school or inability to complete a task. They may seem themselves as inadequate.

  • Insomnia or Sleep Disturbances, Such as Nightmares

  • Shakiness or Trembling

  • Difficulty Concentrating, At Home or at School

  • Headaches

  • Complaints of Stomach Aches

If your child exhibits any of the above mentioned symptoms, it could be due to a number of other things, which is why it is imperative to get a positive diagnosis from a doctor or therapist.

What Are Some of the Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Children?

Experts are not certain of the exact cause of this condition. However, GAD may be linked to a number of factors. Some experts believe GAD may be inherited. Genetics may play a role, as children with this disorder often have a parent or close relative affected by GAD. Personality and temperament may make a child more prone as well, and those who are timid and shy may be more likely to experience generalized anxiety disorder. Traumatic events such as the loss of a parent or loved one, or a serious illness or divorce, may also set off generalized anxiety in a child.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Has GAD

If you or your child's pediatrician suspects your child may have generalized anxiety disorder, it is wise to seek treatment from a trained counselor or therapist. Your local mental health hospital or center may employee specially trained counselors who are experienced in treating children with emotional issues such as general anxiety. Proper diagnosis from a mental health clinician is imperative. The counselor or therapist will most likely ask the you to relay your child's history and anxiety symptoms. You may be asked to complete a form or questionnaire pertaining to your child's home life and symptoms.

How Childhood GAD Is Treated

Treatment for a child who has generalized anxiety disorder will depend upon a few factors. For instance, if the child experiences medical issues as a result of this condition, he or she may need prescription medications. Treatment may include cognitive behavioral therapy. This may involve recognizing and identifying fears, as well as alternate ways to cope when worry takes over. Relaxation techniques may also be taught. Family counseling may be beneficial as well.