Tag Archives: panic disorder

Is Your Child Just a Worrier Or Fighting A Disorder?

Anxiety is a growing mental health epidemic in people of all ages, but a surprising number of children and teens are struggling with an anxiety disorder. The Anxiety And Depression Association of America (ADAA) asserts that 1 in 8 children will be affected by an anxiety disorder. It is important to know the signs of anxiety disorders for children, as they present differently than in adults. Here is a quick look at the signs and symptoms of the different types of anxiety disorders in children.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s way of alerting your system to a potential threat so you can face it (fight) or escape it (flight). While prehistoric anxiety was tied to actual predators and physically dangerous situations, modern anxiety has more to do with social threats, health issues, or uncomfortable stressful situations such as public speaking. Anxiety brings on feelings of nervousness, agitation, fear, angst, tension or distraction. Every child experiences some anxiety as a normal part of life and development, but if your child’s anxiety becomes routine, or starts interfering with their everyday activities and quality of life, they may have an anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of Common Youth Anxiety Disorders

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
    GAD causes excessive, persistent and intrusive worrying about the future, bad things happening to people they love, physical illness, if their parents might get a divorce or become ill, natural disasters, and school performance just to name a few. GAD children spend an disproportionate amounts of time focused on troublesome thoughts to the point where worrying may interfere with social development, sleeping, homework and leisure time.
  2. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    Youth OCD causes repeated and unwanted images, thoughts, obsessions or urges that make them anxious, and subsequently engage in compulsive behaviours in an attempt to reduce the anxiety and rid them off the intrusive thoughts. Children suffering from OCD may constantly count aloud, over-wash their hands, engage in repetitive gestures, pacing back and forth or other strange rituals. They may think that engaging in these compulsions will prevent bad things from happening, such as: “if I count back from 100 seven times in a row, I will never be involved in a car accident.”
  1. Panic Disorder
    This disorder is marked by a child experiencing sudden and often unprovoked panic attacks, followed by weeks of worrying when the next attack may occur. During a panic attack, your child may experience a rapid heartbeat, sweating, acute anxiety and tremors, among many other unpleasant symptoms.
  2. Social Anxiety Disorder
    Social anxiety disorder manifests itself in children or teenagers who are so intensely fearful and apprehensive of social blunders or not being accepted that they avoid any social situations at all costs. That may mean your child will fake stomach pains to avoid going to school or attending a sleepover, won’t attend parties, perform or even speaking to other people. Children who suffer from extreme social anxiety may even engage in selective mutism (when a child has the ability to speak and does so when comfortable, but chooses to stay completely silent in stressful or social situations).
  3. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 1
    PTSD occurs when a child is involved in a traumatic event such instances of abuse, a natural disaster, witnessing a crime, traumatic family events such as a death or divorce or a car accident. PTSD presents in children as such symptoms as flashbacks, jumpy behaviour, night terrors about the incident, fear and avoidance of triggering situations or people, “time skew” (when children misremember the incident and timeline, this symptom is mostly exclusive to children), anxiety and aggressive behaviours (especially in teens).

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Catch our post “Helping Your Child Decrease Anxiety” soon for tips to help your child deal with their anxiety.

The Many Faces of Anxiety

When you think of anxiety, you may think of frantic worrying, erratic thoughts and hair-pulling stress, but anxiety can manifest itself in different ways for different people.

Is Anxiety Another Word For ‘Worry’?

Anxiety can be limited to uncontained worries, but it can also encompass such emotional symptoms as general feeling of unease or apprehension, nervousness (typically because of an upcoming an event or issue), concern, fear, agitation, angst, tension, or even disorientation. Anxiety is often described as the feeling of “butterflies” in one’s stomach. Most fleeting, or isolated anxiety bouts are because of stressful events such as family or friend conflicts, moving, losing or gaining a job, or losing relationships through death or insurmountable conflict (for example divorce). Certain situations such as living and coping with a serious medical illness or a perpetually over-demanding job may lead to long-term stress and anxiety which may require treatment.

The Many Symptoms of Anxiety

Concentrated or prolonged anxiety can have physical effects on the body. Anxiety goes hand-in-hand with stress, which we all know causes physical strain as well as mental. Some physical symptoms of acute or persistent anxiety include:

  • Tension headaches
  • An elevated “pounding” heartrate
  • Muscle tension, especially in the neck and shoulders
  • Forgetfulness or confusion
  • Diaphoresis (excessive sweating)
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bouts of dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal or urinary problems

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should check in with your doctor or one of our certified DocChat physicians, as some of them can be related to other potentially serious health conditions.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

So are your worries just worries? Or is something larger at play? Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a condition marked by constant, and disproportionate or irrational worry about various areas of life. On average, someone who is acutely anxious spends approximately an hour a day focused on a couple particular stressors that are going on in life, while someone with GAD may spend over 5 hours a day worrying and obsessing about an array of topics. Such topics may include: how others feel towards them, if their pet is okay, if everyone they love is okay, if they may have said something to offend the cashier earlier, if there is something unknown wrong with their physical health, and the list goes on. The lives of GAD sufferers can be severely impacted by uncontrolled anxiety and often require medication or other therapy.

Other Types Of Anxiety Disorders

  1. Social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder, where a person is extremely fearful and apprehensive of social situations. This doesn’t include people who are just socially awkward or would rather stay home to watch Netflix. It usually involves serious fear and worry about interacting with others, to the point that a person may need exposure or talk therapy or medication to undergo even menial social tasks such as shopping at the mall.
  2. Panic disorder is an anxiety-based condition where frequent and often unfounded panic attacks occur. There are varying degrees of this disorder, ranging from infrequent spontaneous attacks to debilitation, where the sufferer lives in constant stress and fear of when the next attack may strike. Often medication is prescribed when the disorder begins to interfere with the person’s day-to-day activities.
  3. Phobia disorders are also classified as anxiety disorders. An example would be agoraphobia: the intense, debilitating fear of leaving the comfort and shelter of one’s home. This phobia is usually comorbid with social anxiety.

Is Anxiety Ruling Your Life?

If you are experiencing more than just the occasional bout of anxiety and you feel like it is impeding on your life or preventing you from keeping up with daily activities, it is time to speak to your doctor or one of DocChat’s highly qualified physicians. A doctor can talk to you about potential treatment options such as therapy, medications, or other stress management tactics that may help you control your anxiety instead of having it controlling you.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Keep an eye out for a future post on ways to cope with anxiety!