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Overview of Anxiety Disorders in Children

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Nov 2020| Content last modified Nov 2020
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What are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety is being worried, scared, or nervous. Some anxiety is common and normal at all ages. For example, many young children are afraid of the dark. Older children are often anxious when they have a test.

However, anxiety may become a disorder if:

  • Children are anxious a lot of the time even when they aren't having problems

  • What they're anxious about isn't that bad

  • Their anxiety gets in the way of daily life and causes problems at home or school

Generally, with anxiety disorders:

What are the symptoms of anxiety disorders in children?

Children and teens with an anxiety disorder commonly:

  • Refuse to go to school

  • Talk about their anxiety, saying things like “I’m worried that I’ll never see you again” or “I’m worried kids will laugh at me”

  • Complain of physical symptoms—anxiety can cause an upset stomach, nausea, and headaches

How can doctors tell if my child has an anxiety disorder?

Your doctor asks about symptoms. If your child has a lot of physical symptoms, such as stomach aches or headaches, doctors may do tests for physical disorders that can cause those symptoms.

How do doctors treat anxiety disorders in children?

Doctors treat anxiety disorders in children with:

  • Behavior therapy, where a therapist gradually exposes your child to the situation that causes anxiety so that, over time, your child becomes less anxious

  • Sometimes, medicine

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