Anxiety disorders are one of the most common disorders in young childhood up to adolescence. There are a lot of different types of anxiety disorders, for example:
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
In the next few upcoming week, we will be talking about one of these anxiety disorders, how they affect our emotions, thoughts and the way we live. Stay tuned if you are interested in learning more about them.
Let’s talk about anxiety in general
What is anxiety. I am sure that all of us have anxiety of some sort, whether it is spiders, snakes or nightmares. For me, it’s definitely snakes! Anxiety is a normal human emotion. There is always something that makes us feel a bit anxious every day. It is a feeling of stress, fear, worry and nervousness. These are all aspects of what anxiety is.
It is really common that we experience fears and anxiety every day, however, how do we decide that an adult or a child has a disorder, in other words, when does our anxiety become a problem.
Let’s say when we see a spider, some of them will bite so it gives us a reason to fear some of them. Sometimes our feelings of anxiety and worry are genuine fears. However, if a child has seen a spider in a room and they will never go into that room again. Their anxiety is imagined and out of proportion, that is when it becomes a huge concern.
When is anxiety a disorder? You are likely to have an anxiety disorder when:
You have a fear or worry about a particular event or multiple areas of life
Your fear or worry is excessive compared to that experienced by peers
You want to avoid a particular event that gives you fear or worry
Your fear or worry causes significant distress in daily activities
What happens when we feel anxious?
Researchers usually talk about anxiety in three components:
Body (physiology): When we are scared or nervous, our hearts tend to go a bit faster, we tend to sweat and shake.
Thoughts (cognition): When we are scared, we anticipate something bad is going to happen.
Actions (behaviour): When we are scared, we want to leave and escape from the fear. Avoidance acts as a huge part in all anxiety disorders.
Common features about anxiety disorders
Classified by intense, persistent anxiety
It often begins around middle childhood (between 5 and 7years old)
Symptoms are distressing and unwanted. People do not want to have this fear. They cannot do anything about it even though they know it is irrational or imagined 😦
Other facts about anxiety disorders
Most studies suggest that girls exhibit a great number and intensity of fears (Gullone, 2000)
For some reasons, girls tend to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder more often than boys. It is believed to be cultural specific. It is because in western context, girls tend to express themselves more. It seems to be more expectable for girls to express their fears than boys.
Number and intensity of fear decline with age (Gullone, 2000)
If treated well and early, most of the cases will improve and they won’t persist into adulthood. However, there are small number of cases that does not improve and persist into adulthood.
Common fears at different stages of age
Hope you find this information useful. Feel free to comment down below if you have any question or experience of anxiety that you would like to share. We would love to hear your stories and opinions 😉