Over the past couple of weeks we have been discussing in class about Childhood Anxiety Disorders. This is one of the most common comorbid conditions found in children. It is also the most prevalent form of psychological disorders amongst youth. It can cause significant impairment in multiple areas of a child’s life such as in academics, family, and social functioning. We discussed the challenges of this disorder, for the nature of anxiety in children is not always present to adults. A child might not be able to verbalize that they have anxiety because they are unaware of it themselves. We discussed what is considered to be clinically significant in terms of what the appropriate level of anxiety is to diagnose an anxiety disorder.
We also discussed that there are multiple classifications for Anxiety Disorders in children and adolescents as well. Anxiety disorders are classified based on the nature of threat that the child is experiencing. There are certain forms of anxiety disorders such as: Separation Anxiety Disorder, which deals with the threat of the child being separated from their caregiver, Social Phobia, which deals with the embarrassment or scrutiny a child may feel when being the center of attention, Specific Phobia, which deals with a threat from being in a specific situation such as being exposed to certain stimulus like spiders or heights, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which deals with the threat of anxiety producing thoughts that contribute towards a child’s anxiety, Panic Disorder which deals with panic attacks and the fear associated with having another attack, and others.
We discussed the etiology of these disorders, and looked at the “Triple Vulnerability Model” that Barlow created to conceptualize how an anxiety disorder may develop. He suggested that there are three sources of vulnerability associated with anxiety disorders such as: general biological vulnerability, general psychological vulnerability, and specific psychological vulnerability. From this, we discussed treatment interventions used for anxiety disorders in children. Family interactions seemed to have played a large role in the treatment of anxiety disorders. The goal of most treatment programs is to engage the child in a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program that will not eliminate anxiety all together, but will create a way for children to be able to better cope with their level of anxiety. These programs are more of a longitudinal study that lasts for a period of about 12 weeks or more. Most encourage the support from family and caregivers however, there are also treatment programs that just deal with the child directly.