LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) -How do you know when a healthy dose of the jitters becomes an overwhelming anxiety?
Dr. Sarah Wakefield. M.D., is the new Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.
She says anxiety in children includes a wide range of issues from separation anxiety to phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder to name a few.
In all, anxiety is showing up today in as many as 1 in 3 children.
She adds the incidence is even greater when they are older and in college.
But here is her advice to parents when their children are much younger. She says be aware that a certain common condition can increase the risk of anxiety. She explains, "When you have a kiddo who has a diagnosis of ADHD, especially if that ADHD is not treated, they actually have a higher rate of anxiety. And what I tend to describe is that if you’re always getting in trouble but you’re trying your best, or you’re always forgetting something and you’re always getting reminded, you become very worried that you’re never going to get it right. You’re always going to get in trouble. So what’s interesting about that is treating the ADHD usually resolves the anxiety.
Dr. Wakefield says the parent is the number one person who will know when a child is not acting as they normally do. She says when kids start to isolate themselves or not eat as much or seem easily distressed, those are clues that parents need to investigate.
It may be comforting to parents that Dr. Wakefield says medication is not always the answer.
In fact, she says that often, something called CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is more effective than medication. She says it teaches a child how to read their own body signs to know when their anxiety is building and what they should do to bring it down again.
Also if children seem anxious about so much violence in the news, Dr. Wakefield has advice on how to handle that too.