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Anxiety Symptoms in Children

Mukta Gaikwad Jul 22, 2020
Symptoms of anxiety in children can begin when they are 18 months old. These anxiety symptoms in children have to be treated as soon as possible to avoid any permanent damage in adulthood.
Your hands grow cold and sweaty. Drops of sweat come trickling down from the corners of your forehead. It's soon time to walk up the stage. So, you somehow do. But your feet, as heavy as rocks, prevent you from getting on the stage. The spotlight pans in on you. And bang! You are at a complete loss of words and in no control of the situation.
This is a typical 'gripped by anxiety' situation. We have all been there and done that. As children, and as first timers for a lot of things, anxiety is normal. But when this situation becomes recurrent and the anxiety symptoms take over day-to-day activities in a child's life, it has to be dealt with proper help.

Symptoms of Anxiety in Children

  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Poor concentration
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Troubles or fights within friend circle
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sweating
  • Chest Pain
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Shaking
  • Feeling choked
  • Feeling of being detached from oneself
  • Feeling of losing control
  • Being in constant fear
  • Tingling
  • Escaping from situation
  • Aversion from activities
  • Being anti-social
  • Low self-esteem
  • Being over critical
  • Freezing
  • Clinging
  • Tantrums

Dealing with Anxiety in Children

The symptoms of anxiety differ with the type of anxiety disorder. However, they largely remain the same. Let's see what are the types of anxiety disorder symptoms in children and what are the symptoms of anxiety in children.

Social Anxiety Symptoms

Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD in children is usually seen before or at the time of joining school. Children suffering from this disorder are constantly living under a fear that they will act or speak in an embarrassing manner. SAD is also seen among teenagers as their friend circle changes and they come across different people.
The symptoms of anxiety in children seen under SAD are:
  • Panic attacks
  • Crying
  • Tantrums
  • Freezing
  • Avoidance
  • Anxious anticipation
  • Distress
  • School refusal
  • Defiance
  • Anger

Separation Anxiety Disorder

A child gets too attached to its parents in the first 18 months to 3 years. Showing symptoms of separation anxiety are considered to be normal during this period. However, when this continues after 3 years of age, it's termed as separation anxiety disorder. A child is likely to experience extreme pangs of anxiety when away from home.
Other symptoms include:
  • Refusal to going to places all alone (stay overs or camps)
  • School Refusal
  • Cling on to parents
  • Expect parents to go everywhere
  • Get extremely homesick
  • Have nightmares when staying away from home
  • Sleep with a parent or parents

Selective Mutism

Selective mutism makes things worse for the child. In selective mutism, the child refuses to speak in the most important situations. This is often seen in children around the age of 4-8, when they are in the phase of settling down with 'school atmosphere'. In a case of selective mutism, a child will show most of the previously mentioned symptoms.
Children suffering with selective mutism portray the following symptoms:
  • Exhibit extreme shyness
  • Freeze or get totally motionless
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Exhibit separation anxiety
  • Get out of sight

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive worrying over various trivial things. This affects children within the age bracket of 6-11 years as the academic and extra curricular activities begin to mount. 
Children suffering from generalized anxiety disorder portray the following symptoms:
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Tension
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Destructive behavior
  • Poor concentration
Children also suffer from panic disorders, wherein the child may have a panic attack and lose control over his/her actions. Another most important anxiety disorder is specific phobias of animals, darkness, objects, people, and heights.
These disorders typically exhibit anxiety symptoms, which have to be carefully observed and treated immediately. Get in touch with your doctor and deal with it as soon as possible, to ensure a secure and a healthy future for your child.