Anxiety disorders are the most common mental conditions that affect children and adolescents and some studies suggest that almost one in five kids might have a diagnosable disorder. Anxiety treatments for children can include the intake of medications and therapies, and sometimes different treatments are even combined for greater effect. And even though the anxiety disorders are so widely spread, they are often mistaken for normal conduct, which in turn leads to late diagnosis and treatment. These anxiety disorders can affect the child’s ability to lead normal life, perform well in school, and have a fulfilling adulthood as well.
Common symptoms of anxiety disorders might be physical signs like headaches, muscle tension, abdominal aches, etc. as well as your child being obsessed with worries about normal, everyday activities such as attending school, participating in a sport game, or irrational fears (phobias); frequent and severe panic attacks are also an indication of panic disorder.
The proper diagnosis is usually given after careful evaluation and talking to the child, the parents, and even the teachers. Once your child have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, then you should take some measures to help him or her cope with it – your options include taking your child to a therapist (after you have consulted your child’s doctor), taking a few steps yourself to reduce your child’s stress levels and anxieties, and finally medication. Most children respond well to therapies, with the most popular being cognitive-behavior therapy and medication is only prescribed for kids and adolescents with mild to severe anxiety disorders.
The most often asked question is what anxiety treatments for children and medications can be used to treat their disorders.
The most psychiatric medications used today seem to be the Serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) – they are prescribed to adults and children alike and are used to treat various conditions such as depression, insomnia, personality disorder, and anxiety disorders. These drugs are usually prescribed to kids that have not responded well to therapies and have severe signs of anxiety disorders. Studies have shown in most cases SSRIs are really effective for treating childhood panic disorders and depression, but you should be aware that there are some side effects as well: these can show us abdominal pain, nausea, headache and in very rare cases the SSRIs can lead to suicidal thoughts. In all cases though it is advisable to monitor the changes in the behavior and the mood of the child, and some medical practitioners advise on regular EKG and blood tests too.
The SSRIs are usually taken for a year and in the first few weeks to a month the signs of improvement should be visible. The largest trial so far used fluvoxamine and almost 80% of the children that participated in the trial showed signs of improvement as opposed to 25% of the kids that were given placebo. The side effects were mild, the most common being stomach ache, and have been experienced by more than half of the children that took the drug; the test also showed increased levels of activities among these kids and adolescents, something that is usually not seen in adults taking SSRIs.
Benzodiazepines are also used in rare cases, but they are mostly used for very short-term effect and to suppress child’s irrational fear like fear of flying for example.
Make sure that you pay attention to your child’s needs and worries – if he or she is obsessed with them, then this might be a sign of anxiety. You first step in the right direction should be showing the kid practical ways of coping with his or her worries and fears, but if the symptoms persist, then you should consult a specialist. If medications are prescribed, some benchmarks should be established by the medical practitioner, and periodical evaluation should be made as well, in order to establish that they are actually helping your child battle the anxiety.
The fear of an anxiety attack by itself can trigger an attack. This is true as reported by many anxiety disorder patients and after resolving the “meta” fear, most reported an immediate cessation of anxiety attacks.