DESCRIPTIONAnxiety is a vague, uncomfortable feeling of fear, dread, or danger from an unknown source. It is characterized by a feeling of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear. Some children become constantly anxious about everything. The central nervous system and endocrine system are involved. Anxiety can affect all ages, and is more common in females than males.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Psychotherapy or counseling.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSFeeling that something undesirable or harmful is about to happen.
Dry mouth and swallowing difficulty or hoarseness.
Rapid breathing and heartbeat.
Twitching or trembling.
Muscle tension and headaches.
Nausea, diarrhea, and weight loss.
Constant seeking of attention and reassurance.
Activation of the body's defense mechanisms for fight or flight. Excess adrenalin is discharged from the adrenal glands, and adrenalin breakdown products (catecholamines) eventually affect various parts of the body.
RISK FACTORSStress from any source.
Family history of neurosis.
Fatigue or overwork.
Recurrence of situations that have been previously stressful or harmful.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEDetermine what stressful or potentially harmful situation is causing your child to feel anxious. Deal directly with it. Consider lifestyle changes to reduce your child's stress. See Appendix 19.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory studies to rule out medical conditions that produce anxiety, such as hyperthyroidism.
Untreated anxiety may lead to neuroses, such as phobias, compulsions, or hypochondriasis.
A sudden increase in anxiety may lead to panic and violent escape behavior.
Anxiety can be controlled with psychological therapy. Overcoming anxiety often results in a richer, more satisfying life.
Obtain therapy for your child to understand the specific but unconscious threat or source of stress.
Learn techniques, including biofeedback and relaxation therapy, to reduce muscle tension for the anxious child or any family members.
MEDICATIONDuring periods of unusually intense anxiety.
Until psychological insights prevent anxiety from developing.
Until direct action solves the threatening problem.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe tranquilizers for your child. These are useful for a short time under the following circumstances:
Your child should stay active. Physical exertion helps reduce anxiety.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet. The child should avoid caffeine and other stimulants and alcohol.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of anxiety, and self-treatment has failed.
Your child has a sudden feeling of panic.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.