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Author: Dr Sabina DosaniConsultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist

Symptoms and signs of anxiety vary between children, so I would always tell parents to know what is ‘normal’ for their child and trust your instinct if you think something is wrong.
Dr Sabina Dosani

Anxiety can show itself as physical changes, as thoughts and feelings or be observed in behaviour:

1. Physical symptoms of anxiety

  • Dizziness and feeling light headed
  • Hot and cold flushes
  • Stomach complaints, nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Easily fatigued
  • Loss of appetite

2. Cognitive symptoms of anxiety

  • Obsessive worrying about illness or death of self or loved on
  • Fear that things will go wrong
  • Perfectionism
  • Social shyness and embarrassment
  • Feeling tense and on edge

3. Behavioural symptoms of anxiety

  • Obsessive behaviours (see OCD)
  • Hair pulling, skin picking
  • Clinginess
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Irritability and angry outbursts

13%
of 16 year olds have an anxiety disorder


What causes the symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety symptoms are caused, on the whole, by a series of complicated chemical reactions that occur within the body.

In one of these reactions, when we feel stressed, chemicals are released from a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. These trigger more chemicals from another part of the brain called the pituitary glands, which in turn triggers cortisol to be released from the adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys. This is known as the hypothalamus – pituitary – adrenal axis or HPAA for short.

The cortisol that is released is responsible for many of the anxiety symptoms commonly experienced.

Not all children will experience all of the symptoms described above and often people with anxiety experience the same symptoms again and again.

The Dr was excellent and really took the time to understand our daughter. He managed to get her to open up and relax. We weren’t expecting the level of care we received – from everyone we dealt with.

Charles, Bristol


Types of child and adolescent anxiety disorders

  1. Generalised anxiety disorder
  2. Depression and anxiety
  3. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  4. Phobias
  5. Panic attacks
  6. Social anxiety
  7. Separation anxiety
  8. PTSD

In my experience in working with children with anxiety, the physical reactions, thoughts and feelings can be truly terrifying and often are intensely uncontrollable.
MBBS, MSc, MRCPsych

Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist
London

Dr Sabina Dosani is a highly experienced Consultant Psychiatrist currently working for the Anna Freud Centre looking after Children and Adolescents. She has a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery as well as being a member of the Royal College...

 

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