Are You or Your Child Worried Sick?:  What you need to know about anxiety disorders

Do you or your child. . . .

  • feel uncomfortable in social situations?
  • suffer from excessive worrying and fear?
  • seek constant reassurance from others?
  • worry so much that it gets in the way of your daily functioning?.
  • have difficult adjusting to new situations?

Anxiety in children and teens can take many forms. Children may have fears related to social situations, school performance, specific things (such a food, animals or storms), past events, being separated from parents, or transitions. They might also experience panic attacks, have unwanted thoughts or perform repetitive behaviors that they struggled to control.

Anxiety in adults is often easier to identify.  Adults often recognize when they’re experiencing anxiety, as they become preoccupied with “what if,” unsettling thoughts and imagined scenarios.  At times anxiety can be harder to identify, as it’s masked by physical symptoms such as insomnia, changes in appetite, headaches and stomach aches.

We know how painful it is for both children and adults to suffer from anxiety. Often our clients tell us they feel frustrated, helpless, and worried sick.  And anxiety, a very strong emotion, can be contagious, effecting the entire family.  We’d like to help.

Common red flags that indicate need for treatment:

  • Physical symptoms including stomachaches, headaches, insomnia
  • Catastrophic thinking
  • Chronic embarrassment and self-consciousness
  • Excessive worrying
  • Perfectionistic expectations, rigid standards for success
  • Refusing to go to school or other activities
  • Crying spells, sadness
  • Easily overwhelmed by daily stress
  • Avoidance, limiting one’s activities and social network

There is good news. With intervention, childhood and adult anxiety disorders are highly treatable. Our psychologists utilize evidence-based treatment to treat individuals with anxiety (including separation anxiety, school refusal, OCD, phobias, generalized anxiety). We help children and adults develop skills and build confidence in order to cope with and eventually overcome their fears. When treating children with anxiety, we believe strongly in including parents in the solution, as you can play a major role in helping your child transfer the skills learned in therapy to home and school.

Our psychologists will provide a safe secure setting for you or your child to talk about his or her fears, and develop an individualized plan for overcoming these fears. This typically includes the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies to educate our clients about their anxiety, identify their negative thoughts, explore the rationality of these fears, and eventually change these thoughts and the resulting behaviors. This can include teaching relaxation skills that can be used when they are anxious. Anxiety treatment also often includes an “exposure” element that involves slowly and sensitively talking about or possibly even exposing our clients to things or situations that make them anxious in order to build their tolerance and coping skills.

If you are concerned about you or your child’s anxiety, consulting with a psychologist is an excellent first step in addressing these concerns and giving you peace of mind.

Julia MesserJulia Messer, Ph.D.

Dr. Messer is a licensed psychologist with advanced training in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).  Her approach involves a focus on emotion regulation, distress tolerance, relationship effectiveness, and mindfulness.

SPECIALTIES: Anxiety, Depression, Anger Management, Substance Abuse, Family Issues, Divorce Recovery

Susan OrensteinSusan Orenstein, Ph.D.

Dr. Susan Orenstein is a licensed psychologist and founder of Orenstein Solutions.  Since 1998, she has been helping individuals and couples feel better and improve their relationships.

SPECIALTIES:  Anxiety, Depression, Couples Counseling, Divorce Recovery, PAIRS Couples Workshop

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