Parents and children often struggle with anxiety often known as Worriation. While everyone suffers from anxiety, not everyone suffers from an anxiety disorder. It starts affecting their normal life and routine, keeping them up at night. Many times, parents feel like they are losing it.
Dr. Lulu, a US Based pediatrician, author and coach has been helping parents and kids struggling with anxiety and self doubt, avoid self harm by learning to control their emotions and thoughts.
What is anxiety?
It is the mind and body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous or unfamiliar situations. It’s the sense of distress or dread you feel before a significant event. A certain level of anxiety helps us stay alert and aware, but for those suffering from an anxiety disorder, it feels completely debilitating.
While stress causes adrenaline release, it also causes cortisol release. While most people deal with stress in their life, for some it interferes with their daily functioning.
How to determine if it is a disorder?
Excessive worrying about things, prolonged worrying lasting for over 6 weeks, having trouble controlling worrying manifest as anxiety disorder symptoms.
If it becomes hard to control worrying, or if physical symptoms like restlessness, fatigue, irritability, concentration problems, muscle tension, and sleeping troubles persist and start affecting your everyday work and social life, it may be a disorder.
The lymbic system in our brain controls our thoughts, emotions, memory and motivation reinforcement. Overactivity or disregulation of the lymbic system due to excess adrenaline and cortisol release causes anxiety disorders.
Examples of anxiety disorders are:
· Specific Phobia
· Social Anxiety Disorder
· Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
· Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
· Separation Anxiety Disorder
· Panic Disorder
Symptoms in children
Excessive worrying about future events, separation from safe places such as a parent or their home, feelings of panic in certain situations (sweaty palms, heart racing and heavy breathing) are some of the symptoms of anxiety noticed in children.
A common checklist:
· Sleep disturbances and difficulty
· Difficulty concentrating, inattention, poor focus
· Agitation and restlessness
· Avoidance of certain places / people
· Tantrums, crying, meltdowns
· Neglect of personal hygiene
· Decline in performance at school
· Withdrawal from activities or relationships
· Weight loss or gain
· High expectations at school, sports, homework, performances
· Fear of recent COVID 19 pandemic
How to control and manage it?
Dr. Lulu suggests a 3 step technique of Acknowledge, Analyse and Act.
· Talk: to self, to other, to a therapist or a doctor
· Guided meditation sessions (available online and on apps)
· Breathe: practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique or focused breathing
· Take a 15 minute walk
· Practise Yoga
· Listen to some relaxing music
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders and are more common in children. But the good news is that they can be successfully treated by the right therapy and medication in severe cases.
Dr. Lulu can be reached at email@example.com