An anxiety condition isn’t developed or caused by a single factor but rather by a combination of things. A number of other factors play a role, including personality factors, difficult life experiences and physical health.
It’s normal for children to feel worried or anxious from time to time – such as when they’re starting primary or high school, or moving to a new area.
For some children, anxiety affects their behaviour and thoughts and interferes with their school, home and social life.
What causes anxiety disorders?
Research by family sites, Kids Health, Healthy Families and Psycoms has shown that several things play a role in causing the overactive “fight or flight” that happens with anxiety disorders. They include:
A child who has a family member with an anxiety disorder is more likely to have one too. Kids may inherit genes that make them prone to anxiety.
Genes help direct the way brain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) work. If specific brain chemicals are in short supply, or not working well, it can cause anxiety.
Things that happen in a child’s life can be stressful and difficult to cope with. Loss, serious illness, death of a loved one, violence, or abuse can lead some kids to become anxious.
Growing up in a family where others are fearful or anxious also can “teach” a child to be afraid too.
It is very important that we watch and observe our children’s behaviour patterns. We may otherwise not be aware that something is amiss.
These are some signs to look to look out for to establish whether your child is experiencing some form of anxiety:
– Finding it hard to concentrate
– Not sleeping, or waking in the night with bad dreams
– Not eating properly
– Gets angry or irritable quickly, and gets out of control during outbursts
– Always worrying or having negative thoughts
– Feels tense and fidgety, or using the toilet often
– Always crying
– Often complains of tummy aches and feeling unwell
Seek professional help if you notice that your child is battling with anxiety. Anxiety disorders can be diagnosed by a trained therapist. They talk with you and your child, ask questions, and listen carefully. They’ll ask how and when the child’s anxiety and fears happen most. That helps them diagnose the specific anxiety disorder the child has.