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Anxiety Disorder Among Children and Teenagers

Children experience fear and worry during different periods in their development.  Particularly, they feel distressed when separated from their parent, fear darkness, and new environment which is expected. However, some children do not overcome these fears and adopt them into their lives, leading to extreme phobias, that eventually translate into anxiety attacks.  Social phobia experienced when children interact with a new surrounding like schools may lead to anxiety, especially if they are bullied by their classmates.  Mainly, this condition manifest as worry, where children and teenagers have repeated worry, making them angry and irritable (Bhatia & Goyal, 2018). Common symptoms include disturbed sleeping patterns, being clingy to family members (separation anxiety), limited concentration, being unable to relax, easily startled, feeling jittery, and abnormal heartbeats.

Pharmacological treatment for this condition includes venlafaxine, an antidepressant under the Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). It lessens negative thoughts, panic attacks and fear by restoring balance of natural substances including norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain (Kodish, Rockhill, & Varley, 2022). For children (8-12 years), the ideal dosage is 37.5mg per day orally, while it increases to 75mg for adolescents. Another ideal medication is escitalopram, specifically for teenagers (13-17 years). it is a categorized under selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), that works by increasing serotonin in the brain to improve patients’ moods, energy levels, sleep, and appetite. Moreover, the medication helps patients to relax by eliminating tension and worry propagating anxiety attacks. These pharmacological treatments have side effects, including headaches, fever, unsteadiness, seizures, mild hallucinations, and unusual excitements (Kodish, Rockhill, & Varley, 2022). Resultantly, parents should remain cautious of these effects and report any severities to professionals to review the medication.

Non-pharmacological treatment options include behavioral-based therapy, which helps patients to cope with depressive symptoms. Professionals train patient to master the specific scenarios causing anxiety, by gradually exposing them anxious situations. The approach empowers them to feel less anxious and eventually become desensitized (Reardon et al. 2020). Another option is parent-child and family interventions, where professionals engage families to set goals to speed up the recovery process and understand patients’ health history. If the cause of this problem does not stem from fears presented in the developmental phases, they may originate from from family-related issues; hence, the need to unravel every risk factor to develop suitable intervention techniques (Reardon et al. 2020). Besides, involving parents in the treatment process ensures support for children, since professionals explain the basics surrounding depression to promote understanding about the concepts behind various medications.

Anxiety disorders resource center is an appropriate community resources for addressing this challenge.  The resource provides information about the risk factor, symptoms, treatment options, and parents’ medication guide to address this disorder. Furthermore, it connects people to clinical experts, mental health specialists, and Practice Parameter for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents with Anxiety Disorders. the resource also highlights institutions geared towards fighting anxiety disorders, such as National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), American Psychological Association (APA), and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). To assist less fortunate families, community resources offer financial help for medication and therapy to promote psychological wellness.

References

Bhatia, M. S., & Goyal, A. (2018). Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: Need for early detection. Journal of Postgraduate Medicine64(2), 75.

Kodish, I., Rockhill, C., & Varley, C. (2022). Pharmacotherapy for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience.

Reardon, T., Soler, A., James, G., & Creswell, C. (2020). Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (11).

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