Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety and Stress-related Difficulties in Youth

ImageClick Here to watch Dr. Beidel's video on anxiety in children

Among the most common difficulties in children and adolescents, anxiety can cause academic and social difficulties and drastically lower quality of life. As many as one in ten youths may experience significant problems due to anxiety, resulting in poor school attendance, trouble entering new and unfamiliar situations or meeting new people, and a number of associated difficulties such as trouble concentrating or disrupted sleep. Fortunately, our center offers a number of effective therapeutic programs that can help. If your child is experiencing any of the difficulties listed below, call us at 305-348-0477 or request information at ccf@fiu.edu to learn more.

Common Anxiety Disorders

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – One of the most common anxiety disorders in children, kids with GAD have exaggerated worries about any number of topics, from regular events such as a test or doctor’s appointment and day-to-day issues like school performance or health and safety to global issues such as war or natural disasters. Children with GAD may experience trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and other physical symptoms like nausea and headaches.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) – Children with separation anxiety disorder often have trouble spending time away from home or from loved ones such as parents and siblings. They may feel the need to know where loved ones are, and worry about their loved ones getting sick or injured. These anxieties may result in trouble leaving the home, sleeping alone, and attending school.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder – Kids with social anxiety disorder worry excessively about being embarrassed in situations with other youth and adults. These concerns may interfere when they try to make friends, go to school and other public places, or attempt performance activities like public speaking, taking tests, or playing sports.
  • Selective Mutism (SM) – Children with SM may speak comfortably at home and with close family members, but have difficulty speaking in one or more social situations such as school or in public. Like in social anxiety disorder, kids with SM might seem excessively shy, worry about being embarrassed, or seem socially isolated or withdrawn.
  • Panic Disorder – Youth with panic disorder experience panic attacks (with symptoms including intense fear and unease, increased heart rate, trouble breathing, dizziness, trouble breathing, nausea, and other uncomfortable physical sensations) and concerns about these attacks.
  • Agoraphobia – Adolescents with agoraphobia will come to avoid places where they have experienced a panic attack in the past or generally fear places that may be difficult to leave such as the mall or other crowded places, to school, or to sporting events they used to enjoy. The avoidance of places or situations may come to greatly restrict one’s life.
  • Specific Phobias - Specific Phobias affect more than 1 in 10 adolescents, and can often cause difficulties in early childhood as well. They are characterized by intense, excessive fear of certain things or situations that have lasted for at least 6 months, and may be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, or clinging. These fears may be especially limiting to the situations and places youth are able to comfortably go.
  • Obsessive-Compusive Disorder (OCD) – Though OCD is no longer considered an anxiety disorder under the new DSM-5 diagnostic system, it is most often described as distress due to anxiety and worries about unwanted, intrusive thoughts and images and repetitive actions that must be completed to help reduce discomfort related to these thoughts. Common examples include excessive hand washing, checking for mistakes, and repetitive questions seeking reassurance.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Traumatic, life-threatening experiences in the course of youths’ lives can often lead to psychological distress and anxiety when children and adolescents are faced with similar or related situations and reminders. Like OCD, PTSD is not classified as an Anxiety Disorder. It is, however, often related to considerable anxiety and excessive concerns about potential dangers in a youth’s surroundings that can limit his or her ability to enjoy and engage in daily activities.