If you or someone you care about is in crisis, seek help by doing one of the following:
- Call 911
- Go to your nearest emergency room
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK
- Call the Behavioral Health Response Team at 845-517-0400
“Anxiety is one of the most common experiences of children and adults. It is a normal, adaptive reaction, as it creates a level of arousal and alertness to danger. The primary characteristic of anxiety is worry, which is fear that future events will have negative outcomes. Anxious children are much more likely than their peers to see minor events as potentially threatening. For example, giving a brief oral report might be slightly anxiety-producing for most children, but the anxious child is much more likely to believe that his or her performance will be a complete disaster.” (NASP, 2010)
“Anxious children are likely to engage in a variety of avoidance behaviors to reduce exposure to threat. In the classroom, they may be withdrawn, not initiate interactions, select easy over difficult tasks, and avoid situations where they anticipate increased risk for failure. Socially, they may feel uncomfortable in new situations, not initiate conversations, or avoid group interactions. They worry about being evaluated socially and fear that others will view them negatively. Although there may be some basis for worry, it is usually out of proportion to the situation and is unrealistic. Either a real or imagined threat may be enough to trigger an anxiety reaction.” (NASP, 2010)
Signs of Anxiety:
Home based interventions for anxiety:
- Be consistent in how you handle problems and administer discipline.
- Be patient and be prepared to listen.
- Avoid being overly critical, disparaging, impatient, or cynical.
- Maintain realistic, attainable goals and expectations for your child.
- Do not communicate that perfection is expected or acceptable.
- Maintain consistent but flexible routines for homework, chores, activities, etc.
- Accept that mistakes are a normal part of growing up and that no one is expected to do everything equally well.
- Praise and reinforce effort, even if success is less than expected. Practice and rehearse upcoming events, such as giving a speech or other performance.
- Teach your child simple strategies to help with anxiety, such as organizing materials and time, developing small scripts of what to do and say to himself or herself when anxiety increases, and learning how to relax under stressful conditions.
- Do not treat feelings, questions, and statements about feeling anxious as silly or unimportant.
- Often, reasoning is not effective in reducing anxiety. Do not criticize your child for not being able to respond to rational approaches.
- Seek outside help if the problem persists and continues to interfere with daily activities”
“Anxiety is best treated with either behavioral therapy or a combination of behavioral therapy and medication. The evidence-based therapy of choice for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT is based on the idea that how we think and act both affect how we feel. By changing thinking that is distorted, and behavior that is dysfunctional, we can change our emotions. One of the most important techniques in CBT for children with anxiety is called exposure and response prevention. The basic idea is that kids are exposed to the things that trigger their anxiety in structured, incremental steps, and in a safe setting. As they become accustomed to each of the triggers in turn, the anxiety fades, and they are ready to take on increasingly powerful ones. Medication can alleviate symptoms of anxiety as well, and may make behavioral therapy more effective for some children. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, have proven effective at managing anxiety.” (childmind.org)
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Resource_Centers/Anxiety_Disorder_Resource_Center/Home.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics—Information for Parents
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
For information on finding a local mental health service provider, click on the link for Community Mental Health Resources.