Michelle Barratt Psychology - Brisbane Child Clinical Psychologists
CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENT ANXIETY
Childhood and Adolescent Anxiety
Child Psychologists can support children through psychotherapy to address feelings of anxiety. Unfortunately, children and adolescents experiencing anxiety of any form can be incredibly inhibiting for them.
Anxiety often arises from feeling
Threatened, experiencing or having experienced conflict, fear, feeling helpless, having basic needs being unmet, having threatening health issues, being convinced of having individual differences from others, and psychological reactions to a perceived/imagined threat/abuse (verbal, physical, sexual and emotional).
Symptoms of Anxiety
An overall sense of negative behavior ensures, namely - apprehension, feelings of anxiousness, excessive worry, whining, crying, increased negative behaviour, irritability, tantrums, acting disagreeably, increased fighting or withdrawal from friends and family, insomnia, difficulty of sleeping through the night, not eating well/uncharacteristically. Physical symptoms such as stomach aches, restlessness, fatigue, problems with concentration, impaired memory, muscle tension, and/or insomnia, shaking hands/voice, increased breathing or the feeling of wanting to panic, increased heart rate, and increased breathing, and a mind that just does not seem to rest.
The Impact of Anxiety
More often than not, anxiety can limit the enriched experiences we wish for our children/adolescents to have in order that through these experiences, children can learn and grow openly and confidently.
Most importantly exposing children to a multitude of environments and experiences and allowing them to develop a strong sense of belief in their own ability and capacity enhances their self-esteem, self-worth and confidence to do bigger and greater things – fundamentally providing these opportunities to our children enhances their chances of enjoying life so that they can then aspire and imagine to doing many different things in their lives and believe they can become who they want to be.
In addition, anxiety can impact on a child's ability to make friends, and impair their ability to feel heard and understood as very important people, which can in turn limit their opportunity to learn social skills in which to maintain friends. All parents want their children to grow up healthy, confident, strong and happy within themselves, and this is where psychological therapy can provide and facilitate support, tools and skills to manage anxiety.
Understanding the development and source of a child’s/adolescents anxiety, and recognizing its triggers can go a long way to supporting a child or adolescent feel heard, understood, validated and empathized with. Often the importance of these virtues can be the traction a child/adolescent needs to find the courage to manage their anxiety and move forward in managing their how they feel when they become distressed and experience a range of negative thoughts.
Other psychological intervention tools will include a multitude of interventions such as: play therapy, role-playing and imaginal/exposure therapy can go a long way into helping children and adolescents. With adults, all of the above as well as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) are effective ways of managing/supporting the alleviation of anxiety. It is therefore imperative that if you see any signs of anxiety that it is addressed as soon as possible as often coping mechanisms adopted by people to try and alleviate their symptoms actually increase symptoms of anxiety.
There are many different types of anxiety:
Anxiety disorder due to a general medical condition
Substance induced anxiety disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or
Acute Stress Disorder
If you suspect you or your child has anxiety, please do not hesitate to visit your GP and discuss this with them, and if you need a Mental Health Plan, please obtain one from your GP and make an appointment with a professional as soon as possible.