Anxiety is a usual and common part of childhood. In most cases, anxiety in children is temporary and may be triggered by a specific stressful event. For example, a young child may experience separation anxiety when starting preschool or kindergarten. Or a child may see a scary movie or learn about a tragic news event and have trouble sleeping.
In some cases, however, anxiety in children can be persistent and intense and can interfere with a child’s daily routines and activities such as going to school, making friends, or sleeping.
Generalized anxiety disorder- Children who have a generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, experience constant, excessive, and uncontrollable fears about any number of everyday things such as grades, family issues, performing well in sports, being on time, or even natural disasters. Children with a general anxiety disorder may be more likely to be perfectionists.
Post-traumatic stress disorder- Children can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, after witnessing or experiencing a life-threatening or traumatic event such as a robbery or a car accident. While it’s common to be fearful, worried, or sad after experiencing a frightening event, many children may recover fairly rapidly.
Separation anxiety disorder- Toddlers frequently experience separation anxiety when a parent or caregiver leaves the room. As children get older and attend daycare, preschool or kindergarten, they can experience separation anxiety when they are dropped off by mom or dad. Separation anxiety generally goes away as children become acclimated to their new environment and caregiver or teacher. But even beyond kindergarten, a child can have trouble being separated from a parent and may experience excessive distress or anxiety.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder- Children who have obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, have frequent thoughts that they can’t control called obsessions. They may feel compelled to perform routines and rituals, called compulsions, to try to control their thoughts and ease their anxiety.
Phobias- Children with a phobia have an intense, extreme, and irrational fear of something specific, such as a dog, needles, or the dark. Other common phobias in children contain the fear of thunderstorms, flying, water, heights, and blood. Children with phobias are less likely than adults to be capable to put their fears into proportion or realize that their fears are irrational.