Anxiety disorders in children-1: Assessment and treatment options
October 19th, 2016
Filed under: Anxiety disorder, depression, Mental Disorder by Rachael

Anxiety disorders are common in children and adolescents but are often neglected and left untreated. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) highlights that anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. According to the 2015 Children’s Mental Health Report published by an independent nonprofit organization called the Child Mind Institute, 80 percent of kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder are not getting treatment. This shows that the need for understanding the disorder and its effect on children and adolescents is important for overall anxiety treatment in Colorado.

Anxiety disorders in children are often comorbid, i.e., two different kinds of anxiety disorders can co-exist, or with other psychiatric disorders, the most common being attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is found to accompany anxiety in almost 30 percent of the cases. Moreover, anxiety often precedes some other disorders, such as depression. Children who suffer from anxiety have more chances of abusing alcohol in their youth.

Screening and treatment of anxiety disorders among children

It is important to assess whether the anxiety being experienced by a child is temporary or appropriate to the developmental stage at which he or she is, or are they indicating an anxiety disorder. For instance, infants are usually scared of loud noises. Toddlers fear monstrous creatures and the dark. Kids who are five to six years old, fear being harmed physically. They can develop a fear of natural phenomena such as storms, later on. School children often care too much about academic performance, rejection by the peer group, and falling ill. Worries regarding social competence, societal evaluation, and mental well-being are common among adolescents.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) has developed certain clinical practice guidelines on anxiety disorders. In their guidelines titled, “Practice Parameter for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Anxiety Disorders,” certain recommendations are provided for routine screening and treatment of children with anxiety as outlined below:

Assessment

  1. The psychiatric assessment of children should routinely include screening questions about anxiety symptoms from multiple informants like the child, parents, teachers etc.
  2. If the routine screening results in significant anxiety, then the physician should assess the type of anxiety that the child has, the severity of the condition, and functional impairment.
  3. Since the symptoms of anxiety disorders can mimic the symptoms of other psychiatric and physical disorders, a holistic evaluation should be considered to assess the type of disorder correctly.

Treatment

  1. A multimodal treatment approach should be administered that includes cognitive-behavioral interventions, psychodynamic psychotherapy, family therapy, and pharmacotherapy to achieve the best results in curing the child. Moreover, educating the parents and the child about the anxiety disorder and routine dialogue with school personnel and primary care physicians is of utmost importance for the benefit of a child.
  2. The treatment planning should consider the severity of the condition and the impairment caused due to the anxiety disorder. For example, combining medicines with psychotherapies is necessary to reduce symptoms in a moderately or severely anxious child. In the same manner, treating comorbid disorders need simultaneous treatment that involves both psychotherapies and medications.
  3. For children with anxiety disorders, psychotherapy should be an integral part of the treatment process. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches the child adaptive strategies to deal with the anxiety symptoms and challenge the negative energies by modifying the thought-process.

Family therapies can help in figuring out the environmental triggers and reinforcements, parenting styles, family responsiveness to the child’s anxiety, parental expectations and various other factors that can affect a child’s mental health. In addition, if any one or both the parents have anxiety disorders then psychoeducation and parental anxiety disorders treatment should be considered.

Treatment options available in Colorado

The support of parents and teachers are important to help a child deal with anxiety disorders. If your child is showing any symptoms of anxiety, seek immediate medical help. Chat online with our representatives at the Anxiety Treatment Advisors of Colorado or dial the 24/7 helpline number (866) 891-2539 to get access to the best anxiety treatment centers in Colorado.

 

 

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