Imagine: it’s a sunny Wednesday afternoon and you’re seated in the lobby of an unfamiliar building, waiting to interview for a new job. To the strangers walking by, you appear calm, cool and collected, dressed in your best business attire, silently taking in your surroundings. But on the inside, you feel anything but calm.
Your hands are clammy with sweat, your heart is pounding, and you feel like you might be sick. You’re uneasy because this is your dream job and you want to make a good impression, and you’re worried that your nerves might get the best of you.
Preparing for a stressful situation, like a job interview, can trigger the kind of physical reaction described above, and that’s normal. It’s also normal to feel a little uneasy before meeting someone new or travelling somewhere for the first time.
But imagine you are a child who experiences those exact same physical feelings every morning before school, or when your mom asks you to take the dog for a walk. Imagine feeling short of breath and sick to your stomach whenever your mom and dad leave the house for a few hours.
Feeling excessively worried or uneasy about any of these everyday situations could indicate that you’re suffering from anxiety.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health challenges for people of all ages. Some types of anxiety are a response to social situations, such as attending school or meeting new people, while others present as a constant feeling of worrying that something bad or embarrassing is going to happen.
Children and youth who experience anxiety may feel tense, sweat or blush uncontrollably, and in some cases the feelings are so overwhelming they feel like they’re having a heart attack. You may notice your child repeating behaviours, like hand-washing and touching doorknobs. This can also be a sign that your child is dealing with anxiety.
The good news is that with treatment, anxiety can get better.
It’s important to seek treatment so that your child can learn coping skills for dealing with their anxiety, minimizing its impact on their daily life. By learning to identify what causes him/her to worry or feel distressed, your child can develop strategies to calm himself/herself down when he/she starts to feel anxious. Medication and supportive counselling can also help.
If you are concerned that your child or teenager may be suffering from anxiety, talk to your family physician or seek help from your local children’s mental health service provider. Seeking help as soon as possible is key to minimizing the impact of anxiety on your child’s life.
Peel Children’s Centre is a nationally accredited children’s mental health agency in Peel Region. We provide a continuum of high quality mental health services for children, youth and their families living in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon, Ontario. We also provide residential treatment services in Moncton, New Brunswick. You can learn more about PCC by visiting our website (peelcc.org), by following us on Twitter (@PeelCC) and by liking Peel Children’s Centre on Facebook.
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