Treating anxiety in children [American Psychological Association]

Treating anxiety in children [American Psychological Association]

– Anxiety is something we all experience
– Anxiety protects us in dangerous situations
– Anxiety helps us study in the school context
– There is a time though when anxiety becomes problematic
– Anxiety has a list of symptoms as defined in the DSM5 & it impairs functioning
– There is no blood test to define/diagnose an anxiety disorder

Three key symptoms/signs are:
1) Physiological symptoms (somatic complaints – headaches & stomach aches where there is no medical cause
2) People and their thinking follows themes which are full of fear and danger
3) Behaviour – Avoidance is the most problematic – Avoiding what they are afraid of

Another tell-tale sign though is where functioning and life is impaired by the anxiety
– Anxiety then is no longer helpful and adaptive

There are also several kinds of anxiety disorders as per the DSM – 5

There is also a developmental aspect to anxiety
– for example young children being afraid of separating from parents
– Adolescents will have more social anxiety (And it is only a problem when they blow the fears out of all proportion)

There are few differences between males and females with respect to their experience of an anxiety disorder

However subclinical anxiety cases seems to show that females experience more anxiety than males

Anxiety treatments:
– Cognitive behavioural therapy (Talking about fears and being exposed to and facing those fears
– Medication (Sirtraline – an SSRI)
– Combination treatment seems best for children
– Either therapy alone – no difference in effectiveness was found

There is no long-term data with respect to negative consequences of taking medication

– Approximately 30% of children are chronically ill over the long term with respect to anxiety
– 50% relapse and then get well again and then relapse again etc
– Approximately 20% of children get well and stay well

Anxiety is more prevalent today in children than ADHD and depression
– Is this because of better tools of measurement for detecting anxiety?
– Or is anxiety more prevalent today?

Source: Speaking of Psychology Podcast | 18 February 2017


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