Types of Anxiety Disorders in Children

types of anxiety disorders in children

Do you have children who suffer from one or more types of anxiety disorders? If you do, then you need to make sure that you are able to identify these conditions and treat them appropriately. Anxiety is a common feeling that most adults have experienced at some point in their life, and most of them go away as quickly as they were experienced. If your child is suffering from an anxiety disorder, you may not even realize that he or she has it until the symptoms become noticeable. Children with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) have problems functioning in social situations, schoolwork, and relationships.

Types of Anxiety Disorders in Children

A young girl standing in a field

One of the most common anxiety problems in children is social phobia, which is defined as the fear of social situations. Children with social phobia often feel nervous and embarrassed in front of other people. They also often have unrealistic worries about what others will think or do. Your child may also have frequent panic attacks as a result of their social anxiety disorder.


Sangeetha et al. sitting posing for the camera

GAD is also sometimes called generalized anxiety disorder. It is the most common type of anxiety disorder in children. GAD affects most children and is usually treated by psychotherapy. Some children with GAD have natural anxiety, but it is rare. GAD can have many causes, such as stressful family events or a troubled childhood. GAD typically begins in early childhood and is difficult to treat.

There are many symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in children. Many children experience unrealistic worry about common things, such as whether they will get enough to eat or whether they will lose weight. They may worry about things that are not related to their lives, such as getting ready for a big event. Some children with GAD have physical symptoms like chest pains or headaches. GAD can interfere with everyday activities, making these symptoms a challenge to treat.


Children with panic symptoms may worry excessively about various aspects of their life, such as family events and functioning in school. Their worry can become very excessive, even if there are no threats involved. GAD can make children feel helpless, leading them to try to hide their symptoms to avoid embarrassment or shame.

The majority of children with GAD can manage some of their symptoms, but many have problems maintaining a healthy self-image. They may develop depression or feel overly sad or scared about minor events in their lives. Children with GAD can become anxious about normal family activities and be afraid of being left out of family events. These children may show signs of tantrums or extreme over-excitement when confronted with new situations.

Anxiety disorders can have a profound effect on children’s lives. They can cause children to be unable to play outside with friends or interlock with other children on a regular basis. These children may also be reluctant to try new things or appear timid and uncomfortable when interacting with peers.

Things To Consider

The most effective treatment for GAD is a therapy that treats the underlying cause of GAD, whether it is a phobia, unrealistic expectation, or some other negative thought process. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) works best in children who have moderate to severe GAD symptoms. In addition to the therapies, many children have successfully been treated with medications. Antidepressants such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) have been shown to help reduce anxiety. Children who take these antidepressants are usually given fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), or Paxil (Paxil), but these drugs have also been found to lead to a significant drop in libido in some children.

One type of anxiety disorder in children that has been recently identified is adjustment disorder not otherwise specified (ADD). This is a common condition among school-aged children. It involves problems such as concentrating, hyperactivity, distractibility, and impulsiveness and can negatively affect social skills, emotional well-being, and academic performance. The exact causes of ADD remain unknown, but it is believed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contributes to its development.

Another type of anxiety disorder in children is called social anxiety disorder (SAD). Children who suffer from SAD often fear interacting with others because they worry that others are judging them. This type of anxiety disorder can severely interfere with children’s development. In addition to these two specific anxiety disorders, there are many other types of anxiety disorders in children that can range from attention deficit disorder (ADD) to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). These conditions are often associated with other medical conditions or may be caused by a combination of a few medical conditions. It is important that parents monitor the health of their children and educate themselves about the different types of anxiety disorders in children.

Bottom Line

These types of anxiety disorders in children are often difficult to treat. Because they often go unnoticed and untreated, children with these conditions are much more likely to continue developing anxiety as they get older. It is crucial that parents learn to recognize the symptoms of these conditions in children and learn effective ways to treat them.

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