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Reading Unusual Signs of Anxiety in Children

Reading Unusual Signs of Anxiety in Children


Excessive fear in your child could be a response that you may take seriously as a sign of anxiety. Intense, pervasive and illogical fear, after all, is a common sign of anxiety that most parents would not readily dismiss as natural. When your child, nevertheless, exhibits unusual signs of anxiety, there is a big chance that you may miss them. Without help from a professional, they may struggle longer than necessary.

Children perceive the world in a different way than adults do. With their simple logic and naivety, they can have an uncanny ability to see things as they are. Yet, confronted with unfamiliar situations or things they cannot understand, it is natural that they may react with uncertainty, confusion and fear, even to that which is benign or harmless. This explains why it is common for children to wrestle with a few fears during their growing years.

However, they may not respond all the time with predictable symptoms, such as fear. It may wane in time, like a passing phase, then new ones appear. Thus, it can be difficult to recognize the signs of anxiety in children. Without recognizing the signs, your child runs the risk of not being properly diagnosed and treated.


The Common Signs

It is important to remember that “anxiety is not a single disorder.” There are several types, so the term is inclusively used to refer to an assembly of conditions, each of which has inimitable signs and symptoms. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, these disorders include the following: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder (with and without Agoraphobia), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder. An anxiety disorder may also be induced by excessive stress (Acute Stress Disorder), medications, and substance abuse.

Thus, anxiety “has hundreds, possibly thousands of symptoms,” which vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder that your child has. For instance, GAD can result in your child worrying about almost anything, but he/she can have very specific fears with phobia and panic disorder. Separation anxiety is quite common for toddlers to preschool age, so they may cling to you or cry when you are out of their sight. Social phobia can result in a fear of being surrounded by people they don’t know, so they may feel intense fear during parties or school performances.

Despite the almost infinite possibilities of symptoms, there are common signs that affected children may manifest. These are those that are triggered by the “fight or flight system” – the system in the brain that is programmed to regulate the responses of a person when confronted with danger. It directs the body to respond with agility, so as to escape or protect one’s self from harm or danger. When this system is “out of order” or not working properly, however, it can result in anxiety.

The fight or flight system by natural design will bring about a faster heart beat in the anxious person. This allows the quick delivery of the blood and oxygen to the muscles and glands, enabling the body to respond fast to the danger. There are some common signs of anxiety attacks that are related to this, such as racing heart, breathing difficulties, tightness in the chest, difficulty thinking and focusing, shallow breathing or hyperventilating, shaking, muscle tension, as well as blushing, indigestion and belching, among others.


The Unusual Signs – Physical, Emotional, Behavioral

If your child’s indications do not appear on the list of common symptoms, remember there are still hundreds, even thousands of other possibilities. What are some of the possible symptoms that your child may manifest?  According to Parenting Survival for All Ages, the five unusual signs of child anxiety that you may miss are physical symptoms, refusing to attend school, anger, avoidance of activities, and having rituals that you may misconstrue as routines. Sensitivity to noise, clothes, and dirt must not be ignored – these may also indicate anxiety. Some children with anxiety may also exhibit sleeplessness. They may also be clingy, slow warming or be less friendly to people, and be picky eaters.

It isn’t unusual for children with anxiety to experience physical symptoms. According to the Calm Clinic, it can affect various parts of the body – such as the head and the sense organs, the chest, the muscles, the circulatory system, the digestive system, the arms and legs, even the genitalia.  Aside from the physical symptoms of anxiety, it may also present itself in terms of behavioral and emotional symptoms.

Emotional symptoms can impact the thought and cognitive process of your child. The thought symptoms can include scary, strange, disturbing, racing, and irrational thoughts. Some of the symptoms that may affect your child’s cognitive functioning are bad dreams or nightmares, delusions/distortion of reality, confusion, memory loss or forgetfulness, disorientation, and a sense of detachment. Emotional symptoms can be attributed to the altered levels of the hormones that dictate moods and emotions. Hence, it is not uncommon for children with anxiety to exhibit mood issues – depression or sadness, as well as euphoria.


Other Uncommon Symptoms – Behavioral and Illness Related

Anxiety may affect your child’s behavior in ways you didn’t imagine. For example, in an effort to avoid people or social events, they can have behavioral issues, so they may be labelled as clumsy, disobedient, defiant, etc. They may have trouble sleeping, eating, and experience weight gain or loss. They may resort to self-harm, even collapse or faint when forced to participate in a performance or activity. They may also avoid people in general. Children with obsessive-compulsive behaviors have a higher tendency to exhibit behavioral symptoms.

Anxiety can also have illness-related symptoms. In this case the symptoms may mimic the symptoms of real medical conditions. This means that your child may complain about stomach aches or headaches, even run a temperature like they have a fever, despite their doctor not finding anything wrong with them. Calm Clinic enumerates some of these symptoms – “feeling Itchy, fibromyalgia, increased risk of infection, unease, mucus, paralysis, peripheral neuropathy, shock, swelling, swollen glands/ swollen lymph nodes, and vomiting.”


Reading the “Unreadable Signs”

With the wide array of possible signs and symptoms of anxiety, it’s virtually impossible to know every possible indication. The condition can indeed trigger or contribute to almost every imaginable symptom. The best and smartest thing to do is to have their unusual symptoms assessed properly by a qualified behavioral health professional. You can find a good therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC, on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks.

Your little one is not immune to anxiety. Like teenagers and adults, they too can struggle with this emotional condition. The difference is that, they can have trouble understanding what’s happening and they may have difficulty expressing their feelings and thoughts. This means that they need you to decipher their “symptoms” and to provide them with the right help to feel better and be happy as they go on with their young life. If the symptoms are pervasive, intense, and you fear that they may cause permanent impairment, but they do not fit the image of anxiety in your mind, seek professional help with haste.

Your child deserves the opportunity to grow up and be happy like any healthy child. “Anxious children often tend to be some of the most kind-hearted children…”  having a sensitive nature and possessing great potential. If your child is exhibiting some unusual behaviors or manifestations, find out early if they are symptoms of anxiety. Let a proficient therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC, on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks help your child. Call today to schedule an appointment!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
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Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay

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Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Holly Ring, LMFT

Specializes in: (Ages 7+) Adolescents, College Students, Individuals, Couples, and Families, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma (child and adult, TFCBT certified), Relationship Issues, Coping Skills, Adjustment Disorders, Life Transitions, Suicidal Ideation, Self-esteem, OCD, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting Skills, LGBTQ
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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