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Why Childhood Anxiety Often Goes Undetected (and the Consequences) []


By Roy Boorady, MD, Child Mind Institute, August 18, 2022

All kids worry sometimes. But when worry makes it hard for them to participate in daily life, they may have an anxiety disorder. Because anxiety often affects a child’s thoughts and feelings more than it affects their behavior, it can be hard to spot. It’s also possible for a child to be generally happy but still so anxious that it interferes with some aspect of their life, like school or socializing.

Common outward signs that a child might be anxious include troubling sleeping, lots of stomachaches or headaches, clinging to parents, and throwing tantrums. Some of these symptoms may look like oppositional behavior, but really the child is struggling to deal with overwhelming worry. Anxiety can also make it hard to focus or sit still, so it can be hard to tell anxiety apart from ADHD.

Untreated anxiety in childhood can lead to more anxiety in adulthood, so it’s important to get anxious kids help. The good news is that childhood anxiety is very treatable. Most anxious kids respond well to a kind of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Medication can also help. By getting treatment early, kids can learn to manage their worries and keep anxiety from interfering with their lives.

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