The Long-Term Effects of Anxiety in Children

Anxiety is a common emotion that you can expect to see in your child as they try things for the first time and learn by doing. In fact, some anxiety is a good thing: it can help keep young people safe by getting them to think about the situation they’re in and the potential consequences or it can motivate them to do their best. However, anxiety can manifest in many different ways and some children may experience anxiety at an abnormal rate. Children who are constantly anxious and worry so much that it interferes with their daily lives are experiencing an anxiety disorder that needs to be addressed, as it can have long-term effects as they move into their teen and young adult years, especially if it goes untreated.

Most Common Signs of Anxiety in Children

If you are unclear if your child is experiencing normal fear and anxiety, or has may have an anxiety order that requires treatment, there are signs of anxiety in children that you can look out for:

  • Trouble sleeping or bad dreams
  • Frequent stomachaches or headaches
  • Rapid heartrate or trouble breathing
  • Becoming extra clingy or avoidant around family or caregivers
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Constantly worrying or expressing negative thoughts
  • Consistent crying with no apparent reason

While some of these signs are also indicative of expected behavior at some stages of childhood, if you notice that your child experiences more than one or two of these symptoms, then it is time to speak to a professional and gauge if they may be struggling with an anxiety disorder.

Effects of Childhood Anxiety Can Occur Throughout Childhood

Anxiety disorders often begin in childhood or adolescence, with rates between 5% and 10%. Undetected or untreated childhood anxiety disorders can have several negative long-term effects on a child’s life. For example, a child may fall behind in school due to a fear of asking for help or they may not form friendships due to social anxiety. These negative effects can take a toll on a child’s well-being and may cause their self-esteem to suffer.

Long-Term Effects of Childhood Anxiety May Last into Adulthood

Some long-term studies have shown that individuals who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder as a child have a higher risk of having the same disorder throughout adulthood. Furthermore, children with anxiety have a higher risk of major depression, suicidal behavior and substance abuse, with the most common of these being depression.

These effects are more likely to occur if the anxiety went undetected or untreated for a long time, if the individual experienced panic attacks or was diagnosed with multiple anxiety disorders as a child.

Early Intervention is Key in Youth Anxiety Treatment

Early intervention is key when it comes to signs of anxiety in children. On top of reducing the effects of childhood anxiety, it reduces the risk factor of developing other teen anxiety and depression symptoms in their teen and young adult years. Many children with anxiety disorders who receive the appropriate treatment will experience a significant reduction or elimination of their anxiety and will not be as affected by it later in life.

Youth anxiety treatment is personalized for each individual and the type of anxiety that they suffer from, but may include some or a mix of the following:

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) uses strategies of acceptance and mindfulness as a way to cope with the unwanted thoughts, feelings and sensations that anxiety can cause in your child.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is also known as talk therapy and can help your child manage their problems by changing the way that they think and behave.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) helps children to examine how they deal with conflict and intense negative emotions.

Help is Available for Children with Anxiety

There are various different long-term effects that may be experienced by children who suffer from anxiety. However, children who get the treatment and help they need are often able to lead normal lives and will have the coping skills that they need should they experience anxiety in adulthood.

If you are concerned that your child may be experiencing an anxiety disorder, or that your teen may now be outwardly showing signs of anxiety that wasn’t diagnosed in childhood, Teen Rehab can help. Contact us today to find out the best treatment options for your child.