YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – In today’s world, a major challenge millions of children and teenagers face is anxiety. What can be even more challenging is how it presents when it comes to the age of the adolescent.
Dr. Carmen Harlan, a pediatric and adolescent psychiatrist with Akron Children’s Hospital says when it comes to anxiety in children and teenagers, both will experience a sense of worry or nervousness.
“Anxiety disorders are one of the most common we see in children. Often younger kids have a lot of acting out behaviors so they might have more meltdowns or tantrums,” said Dr. Harlan. “Older teens might more express it by actually talking about their worries or avoid doing things that cause anxiety.”
Other symptoms teens and children may share are sleep disturbances or physical health symptoms like stomach aches or headaches. With both, the anxiety can begin to interfere with their ability to function in daily life.
“Regular anxiety is something that we all experience. It’s usually short-lived and in response to a specific event or circumstance. Once the event is over, the anxiety usually goes away,” said Dr. Harlan. “Disordered anxiety might be more chronic and irrational and it tends to be harder to reassure the person suffering.”
Dr. Harlan says there are several risk factors that contribute to the development of anxiety disorders such as genetics, negative life events like trauma, abuse and neglect, natural disasters or bullying. One solution can be as simple as talking to your kids.
“Sit down and talk with your child. Get as much information from them as possible to really identify what it is that they are feeling,” said Dr. Harlan. “Really explore what’s happening with them and what the reasons might be.”
One way to treat anxiety is with therapy.
“One of the best known ways is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” said Dr. Harlan. “It focuses on identifying negative thoughts, challenging those thoughts, and changing how people perceive things.”
Dr. Harlan says another common treatment is medication. But how do you know if treatment is needed?
“When it starts to hinder one’s ability to function in daily life,” said Dr. Harlan. “It’s time to take a deeper look at what is going on and seek treatment.”