There are some effective child anxiety treatment options available. These include self-help programs, behavioral therapy, medication and therapies that encourage children to develop healthy relationships with others and their physical environment. The goal of any treatment for anxiety in children should be to provide relief without the use of pharmaceuticals. As with any condition, anxiety symptoms need to be addressed before any other form of treatment can be used. Anxiety may be caused by a number of factors, such as genetics, early experiences, or a lack of adequate social support in the child’s family. In some cases, anxiety may also be a symptom of an underlying disorder such as depression, diabetes, hyperactivity or other neurological problems.
The most common initial treatment for child anxiety is one-on-one counseling or psychotherapy. During a one on one counseling session, a licensed therapist will use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a common anxiety treatment that is effective in combating the disabling behaviors and thoughts that cause anxiety, such as intrusive thoughts, unrealistic fears, negative self-talk and guilt complex. Through careful observation and therapeutic intervention, a child can learn to identify these thoughts and counter them with realistic and rational responses. In addition, the sessions may teach the child to replace anxiety-provoking thoughts with more healthy and realistic thoughts, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for anxiety medications or psychotherapy.
Another child anxiety treatment option is the use of behavioral therapy. A behavioral therapist will teach a child how to recognize their normal physical and mental responses to situations and how to respond to anxiety triggers in a healthier manner. Often, these therapists work closely with the parents to help the parent address their own issues and provide encouragement and help for the child. This form of therapy may require participation at home by both parent and child, or one on one counseling with a therapist.
A parent also has the option of seeking support from other parents who are experiencing similar anxiety problems. These parents may be able to provide information and tips for handling child anxiety. Another parent’s experience can help identify certain triggers or areas where the child needs additional guidance or assistance. A child anxiety treatment program or service should be tailored to meet the specific needs of each child.
One of the more common forms of child anxiety treatment involves the use of medication. Antidepressants such as Tofranil (imipramine), Effexor (propranolol), Celexa (citalopram) and Zoloft (tricetanide) are commonly prescribed by treating doctors to combat the symptoms of this disorder. While these medications are often effective, they come with side effects that include drowsiness, headache, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness and upset stomach. Alternative treatments, which include the use of biofeedback, counseling and behavioral therapy are also available. These alternative remedies do not contain the sedating effect of traditional medications, but some of them may cause side effects of their own.
If these methods do not work, child therapists may recommend the use of specialized therapists known as child therapists. These trained professionals are specially trained to work with children who exhibit symptoms of anxiety. These professionals are skilled at identifying negative behaviors, teaching coping mechanisms and helping the child develop healthy relationships. They are often involved in formal therapy sessions with the parents, helping them to reassess their parenting styles. Child therapists may also utilize group therapy sessions to reinforce positive behaviors and teach children to manage their anxiety levels.