I have good news and bad news about Anxiety… More good than bad, I promise!
The good news is that anxiety is one of the most natural emotions for human beings. It is the force that moves us toward our goals and pushes us to do bigger and better things. It makes us appreciate a much anticipated and needed vacation and makes joyful moments of our lives exciting and memorable.
The bad news is that anxiety can also be debilitating and it can stop us from achieving our goals and from enjoying wonderful things in life. Anxiety disorders are very common in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older. According to Child Mind Institute, a study of more than 10,000 kids, showed that more than 30 percent of them had developed an anxiety disorder some time before they were 18.
The good news is that some fears and worries are normal or age-appropriate. For example, it is typical for a preschooler to fear sleeping alone, or for a 3rd grade child to worry about not making friends in a school. It is not unusual for a high school student to worry about a test grade or about their appearance.
The bad news is that for some children worries may get out of control. Depending on a child’s age and developmental differences, they may or may not be able to tell that they are worried about something. Instead, they will have trouble sleeping, complain of stomach ache, refuse to go to school or daycare, have explosive outbursts, refuse to participate in social activities with other children, etc.
Anxious children often become anxious adults, especially when they do not get professional help. Child Mind Institute mentions a study that showed that 80 percent of kids with anxiety do not get treatment. Many adults coming to therapy for anxiety remember being shy and anxious as a kid, which means that they’ve been dealing with anxiety their whole life and did their best to try to live with it. When left untreated, anxiety can lead to such long-term issues as low self-esteem, academic underachievement, depression and social isolation.
And finally, the really good news is that Anxiety disorders are the most treatable out of all mental health issues! Anyone can learn how to control and manage anxiety through therapy and in some cases, medication. There is a lot of research supporting the effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Anxiety Disorders. We know how the brain works and where anxiety comes from! With the right professional experienced in CBT, a person will learn the neuro-psychological mechanisms behind anxiety, master calming techniques to manage and control physical symptoms of anxiety in their body, and develop healthier ways of thinking about various situations in life, where anxiety may prevent them from being happy and/or successful. CBT can be used with young children, depending on the level of their cognitive and emotional development. Most kids respond positively to CBT and make a lot of progress in a short period of time.
If you are thinking about getting help for yourself or your child, look for resources and specialists in your area. Ilona Naroditskiy, MA, LPC is a professional counselor and owner at Spectrum of Solutions Therapy Services located in the Greater Philadelphia Area (Holland, PA). Ilona and other clinicians in her practice provide CBT to children, adolescents, and adults with Anxiety as well as a wide range of developmental, emotional, and behavioral issues. Ilona can be reached by phone 267-270-5527 or email firstname.lastname@example.org