Did you know that one in four Australians will suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder from childhood and adolescents through to adulthood?
The fact is most people experience some anxiety at some point in their lives. It is normal to feel a level of anxiety about situations that are stressful, such as a job interview or an exam. However, usually when the stressful event passes so does the anxiety. The difference for people who have an anxiety condition is that the anxiety persists even after the stressful event has passed. This is where the anxiety is more frequent in a person’s life even if there aren’t any stressful events to bring it on. This type of anxiety becomes a problem for people when it interferes with their ability to get things done. It gets in the way of their relationships and affects the way they see themselves and the way they live their life.
Most commonly, anxiety shows up in a number of symptoms and can include:
- Body Symptoms: panic attacks, tightening across the chest, shallow/rapid breathing, nausea and feeling wound up all the time.
- Thinking Symptoms: worrying a lot, going over the same thoughts repeatedly, focussing on the worst that could happen, everything seems overwhelming and stressful.
- Behaviour Symptoms: changing plans to avoid people, keep away from social situations especially if they’re new, procrastinate or avoid challenging work situations.
These symptoms show up differently for people at different times so it can feel unpredictable or out of control. Often people with anxiety will say that if feels like it is taking over their lives and they can’t predict when it is going to strike next. This can then impact their confidence to do things and their self-esteem to try new things and enjoy life.
The good news is that seeing a psychologist can help with dealing with symptoms of anxiety. They help you understand the anxiety shows up for you and will give you tools to start ‘unwinding’ the hold that anxiety seems to have on you and your life. It’s a step-by-step process that can help bring you relief and a sense of well-being so you can start feeling better and enjoying your life again.
Anxiety In children 6 to 12 years old
Anxiety is particularly hard for children as they find it harder to understand what is happening to them and control their anxious feelings. It is normal for children to have some anxiety about situations such as starting at a new school or moving house. Also, it is common for children to have different types of fears that show up but are fairly short-lived.
The difference between these ‘normal’ worries and anxiety is that these fears and worries become bigger and hang around affecting their ability to deal with day to day situations like taking part in school activities.
Usually children find ways to cope with these situations but then the fear that they will be anxious again adds to their stress about being able to handle situations.
Children with anxiety difficulties worry about a lot of things and need a lot of reassurance. They avoid new situations and avoid things they are worried about, often trying to get others to do things for them. They don’t want to go to sleep alone or do things themselves like get ready for school in the morning. Often they complain about physical pains and often they cry about small things or get upset easily.
It is important to seek support for your child if you think that anxiety is affecting their life. The sooner that children learn skills to deal with anxiety the sooner they get to start enjoying life more and take part in the activities that they love to do. This also gives them a chance to grow with more confidence and deal with life’s ups and downs better.
Fotini is a highly experienced registered psychologist and coach at Psychologists Southern Sydney. As a psychologist, she works with children and adults on range of mental health and emotional wellbeing issues including anxiety. To read more about Fotini and our team of psychologists please click here.