Normal or Not: Causes of Anxiety in Children

By ParentTV on 14 Jun 2019
Categories: Mental Health

This post was written by ParentTV expert Dr Jodie Lowinger

Anxiety refers to the brain’s natural response to danger. This response to threatening stimuli is present from childhood and is healthy. When a child is frightened by something, say a thunderstorm, they may have trouble sleeping momentarily, which is perfectly normal. Anxiety becomes maladaptive when it interferes with everyday functioning.

Anxiety disorders affect both children and adults. Many children suffer from separation anxiety, social anxiety disorder, generalised anxiety, OCD or specific phobias.

Impacts of Childhood Anxiety

Approximately 10 percent of all children are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. This affects their functioning academically, socially and personally.

At school kids with anxiety may underperform, have poorer attendance and participate less in the classroom. In social situations they may struggle to make and maintain friendships and experience disruption with their parents or siblings at home. On a personal level anxiety causes them distress and can negatively impact their self-image.

Studies have demonstrated that childhood anxiety disorders that are left untreated often progress or increase the risk of psychological disorders and depression in adulthood. Children can have any anxiety disorder an adult can have though some types, particularly separation anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and phobias, are more common than others.

Childhood anxiety symptoms usually appear by the age of six but can begin at anytime during childhood.

Roots of Childhood Anxiety

Similar to many psychiatric illnesses, etiological models of childhood anxiety have identified both genetic and environmental pathways as the root of childhood anxiety disorders.

Recent research suggests that genes account for 30 percent of the variance of child anxiety while shared environments (children being raised in the same home and socioeconomic status) account for 20 percent of the variance. Non-shared environments, factors that are unique to each individual, and error account for the remaining 50% of the variance in childhood anxiety disorders.

Causes of Childhood Anxiety Disorders

The following factors could contribute to childhood anxiety:

There are many contributing factors that can lead a child to develop anxiety and here I have highlighted the main contributing factors. It is important to remember that the development of anxiety is unique to each child and family. With treatment, children with anxiety can learn to cope and live full and happy childhoods.

Anxiety Course_Dr Jodie Lowinger

Being a parent of an anxious child can be challenging. The good news is that while there is no cure for anxiety it is very treatable and there are many strategies that have been proven to help manage and ease anxiety in children.

In this course, Dr Jodie walks through everything you need to know about parenting and helping your anxious child.