What is Anxiety?
It is normal for people to worry, including kids, teens, and adults. Many people worry about the dark, a new activity, an upcoming test or transition, or an argument with a friend or close relative. Worrying can be adaptive, helping people, and especially children solve problems, stay safe, and can motivate individuals to succeed. However, for up to 20% of youth, worrying interferes with their lives and may affect the functioning of the entire family. As parents, it is difficult to watch our children suffer and not know what to do. We may also be confused about whether they will “grow out of it”, or whether their feelings are normal for their age. In terms of adults, 20 to 30% of adults worry to the point of interfering with their ability to function.
Understanding Signs of Anxiety
You may be wondering how we define “too much” worrying or an anxiety disorder. Anxiety becomes a problem when it interferes with an individual’s ability to handle situations and do the things that they want to do or should be doing given their age. To see whether you or your child needs help, ask yourself:
- Does the individual worry about unrealistic and unlikely things?
- Does the individual’s anxiety seem out of proportion for the situation?
- Does the individual have a hard time controlling their worries?
- Does the individual experience headaches, tummy aches, muscle aches and/or fatigue?
- Does the individual seem to be struggling with worries that have been there for a long period of time (about 3 to 6 months)?
- Does the individual avoid situations, people, places, or things because of their anxiety?
If you answered yes to many of these questions, you or your child may be suffering from “too much” anxiety.
How Can Reframe Help?
Life may be harder than it needs to be as a person struggles with an anxiety disorder such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Phobias, or Selective Mutism. Often times, individuals who struggle with anxiety for a long period of time, also experience depression. The good news is that research consistently shows that Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the first-line treatment for successfully treating anxiety in children, teens, and adults (not medication).