Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral components. These components combine to create an unpleasant feeling that is typically associated with uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry.
Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that can often occur without an identifiable triggering stimulus. As such, it is distinguished from fear, which occurs in the presence of an observed threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable.
Anxious children are often overly tense or uptight. Some may seek a lot of reassurance, and their worries may interfere with activities. Other anxious children may be quiet, compliant and eager to please, causing their difficulties to be overlooked. Caregivers should be alert to the signs of severe anxiety, so they can intervene early to prevent complications. It is important not to discount a child’s fears. If signs of anxiety are persistent, a qualified child mental health professional should be consulted.
Severe anxiety problems in children can be treated. Early treatment can prevent future difficulties, such as, loss of friendships, failure to reach social and academic potential, and feelings of low self-esteem. Treatments may include individual psychotherapy, family therapy, medications, and behavioral treatments.