How You Can Help Your Child Cope With Anxiety – an article by Jenny Wise
Generally, people who struggle with anxiety have to deal with intrusive thoughts of worry and fear that can seriously affect their lives. In 2018, it was reported that one in eight children in England had mental health issues which included anxiety. Statistics like these make it even more important for us to learn how to identify mental health issues in children and help them cope with the illness.
This article will focus primarily on anxiety.
Causes and Symptoms of Anxiety in Children
According to this article by the Boston Children’s Hospital, children may develop anxiety because of an imbalance in the neurotransmitters in their brain as a result of a traumatic experience, or they may inherit it from their parents.
While children and adults may have similar symptoms of anxiety such as dizziness, chest pains, and a lack of focus, it’s important to note that children have a number of different anxiety symptoms as well. Children with anxiety may experience tantrums, bouts of uncontrollable crying, frequent nightmares, and restlessness among other things.
Treating Anxiety in Children
If you suspect that your child has an anxiety disorder, the next step will be finding the right mental health professional for them. A mental health professional will work with your child to determine the most effective treatment program for them. The Child Mild Institute lists three general types of treatment that are usually applied to children with anxiety.
These are cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and intensive therapy. The type of therapy that is chosen will depend on whether your child’s anxiety is mild, moderate, or severe as well as how the particular disorder manifests itself. Of course, medication is always an option for getting your child’s anxiety to a manageable level.
Some of these drugs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, while others work differently such as Xanax.
Helping Your Child Cope With Anxiety
In this Psycom article, different coping mechanisms for children are explored. They include practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, writing about their anxious feelings, and learning to “talk back” to the intrusive thoughts in their brains.
If you’re already working with a mental health professional, ask them if they think these coping suggestions will work for your child, and seek guidance about incorporating them into your child’s current treatment program. It may also be helpful to find support groups near you so you can hear about other people’s experiences and share your own.
Other Factors to Consider
It has been noted that while anxiety is not considered to be one of the main aspects of autism spectrum disorder, at least 40 percent of young adults with autism suffer from an anxiety disorder. If your child has autism, then it is important that you look for signs of anxiety in them as well. While it may be difficult to separate the symptoms of anxiety from the characteristics of autism, possible symptoms are specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and separation anxiety.
Research has also established a link between the child’s nutrition and mental health. In recent studies, it showed that children who had more good microorganisms in their stomach had good gut health and fewer episodes of anxiety. When children maintain the balance of microorganisms in their gut, the brain is encouraged to produce the calming neurotransmitter, serotonin. You can encourage this growth by having your child take a daily probiotic and modifying their diet to include certain foods.
It can be hard for any parent to see their child deal with an anxiety disorder, but what’s important is that you seek the professional help and support that you and your child need to successfully manage the disorder. It can be difficult, but it’s far from impossible!
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