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Anxiety in Kids: How to Turn it Around and Protect Them For Life

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Anxiety in Kids: The Skills to Turn it Around and Protect Them For Life

Anxiety is a normal response to something dangerous or stressful. It becomes a problem when it shows up at unexpected times and takes a particularly firm hold. When anxiety is in full swing, it feels awful. Awful enough that anticipation of the feeling is enough in itself to cause anxiety. Anxiety in kids can be especially confusing , not only for the ones who are feeling anxious, but also for the adults who care about them. 

We already know that anxiety has nothing to do with strength, courage or character. It picks a target and it switches on.

When that target is a child or teen, it can be particularly distressing, causing problems with sleeping, eating and missed school from unexplained illnesses such as sick tummies or headaches. 

One of the worst things about anxiety in kids is the way it can happen without any identifiable cause. The physical feeling is familiar – that panicked feeling that comes when you miss a stair or as my daughter recently described, ‘that feeling you get when you’re almost asleep and you feel like you’re falling.’ (‘Yes, we’ve dealt with it in our home too. It’s under control now, so I can assure you this works.)

The good news is that anxiety in kids is very treatable and they are particularly responsive. I often think we don’t give them enough credit. They’re so open to possibility, and very quick to make the right connections when they’re given the right information and support. As the adult in their lives, you’re the perfect one to give it.

Anxiety in Kids and Teens: Turning it Around 

  • Don’t talk them out of it.

    As a parent, the temptation is to reassure your child with gentle comments in the way of, ‘There’s nothing to worry about,’ or ‘You’ll be fine‘.

    This comes from the purest of intentions but it runs the risk of them feeling as though there’s something wrong with them. The truth is that when anxiety has a hold of them, they can no sooner stop worrying than fly to the moon. As much as they want to believe you, their brains just won’t let them.

    What they need to hear is that you get it. Ask them what it feels like for them. They may or may not be able to articulate – and that’s okay. Then, ask if it’s ‘like that feeling you get when you miss a stair,’ (or ‘that feeling you get when you feel like you’re falling in your sleep’). Often, this in itself is such a relief because ‘someone gets it.’

  • Normalise.

    Explain that:

    •. Anxiety is normal and everyone experiences anxiety at some time in their life – before an exam, when meeting new people, going for an interview or starting at a new school.

    •  Sometimes it happens for no reason at all. That’s also normal. It happens to lots of adults and lots of kids but there are things you can do to make it go away. 

  • Explain why anxiety feels like it does.

    Out of everything, this is perhaps the most powerful intervention for anyone with anxiety. Anxiety in kids causes the most problems when it seems to come on without any real trigger. There’s a reason for this, and understanding the reason is key to managing the anxiety.

    Here is a child-friendly explanation. I’ve used it for a variety of ages, but nobody knows your child like you do so adjust it to suit. 

    ‘Anxiety is something that lots of people get but it feels different for everyone. Anxiety in kids is common, and lots of adults get it too. It happens because there’s a part of your brain that thinks there’s something it needs to protect you from. The part of the brain is called the amygdala. It’s not very big and it’s shaped like an almond.  

    It switches on when it thinks you’re in danger, so really it’s like your own fierce warrior, there to protect you. It’s job is to get you ready to run away from the danger or fight it. People call this ‘fight or flight’.

    If your amygdala thinks there’s trouble, it will immediately give your body what it needs to be strong, fast and powerful. It will flood your body with oxygen, hormones and adrenaline that your body can use as fuel to power your muscles to run away or fight. It does this without even thinking. This happens so quickly and so automatically. The amygdala doesn’t take time to check anything out. It’s a doer not a thinker – all action and not a lot of thought.

    If there is something dangerous – a wild dog you need to run away from, a fall you need to steady yourself from – then the amygdala is brilliant. Sometimes though, the amygdala thinks there’s a threat and fuels you up even though there’s actually nothing dangerous there at all. 

    Have you ever made toast that has got a bit burnt and set off the fire alarm? The fire alarm can’t tell the difference between smoke from a fire and smoke from burnt toast – and it doesn’t care. All it wants to do is let you know so you can get out of there. The amygdala works the same way. It can’t tell the difference between something that might hurt you, like a wild dog, and something that won’t, like being at a new school. Sometimes the amygdala just switches on before you even know what it’s switching on for. It’s always working hard to protect you – even when you don’t need protecting. It’s a doer not a thinker, remember, and this is how it keeps you safe.

    If you don’t need to run away or fight for your life, there’s nothing to burn all that fuel – the oxygen, hormones and adrenalin – that the amygdala has flooded you with. It builds up and that’s the reason you feel like you do when you have anxiety. It’s like if you just keep pouring petrol into a car and never take the car for a drive.

    So when the amygdala senses a threat it floods your body with oxygen, adrenaline and hormones that your body can use to fuel its fight or flight. When this happens:

    ♦   Your breathing changes from normal slow deep breaths to fast little breaths. Your body does this because your brain has told it to stop using up the oxygen for strong breaths and send it to the muscles to they can run or fight.

    When this happens you might feel puffed or a bit breathless. You also might feel the blood rush to your face and your face become warm.

    ♦    If you don’t fight or flee, the oxygen builds up and the carbon dioxide drops.

    This can make you feel dizzy or a bit confused.

    ♦   Your heart beats faster to get the oxygen around the body.

    Your heart can feel like it’s racing and you might feel sick.

    ♦   Fuel gets sent to your arms (in case they need to fight) and your legs (in case they need to flee).

    Your arms and legs might tense up or your muscles might feel tight.

    ♦   Your body cools itself down (by sweating) so it doesn’t overheat if it has to fight or flee

    You might feel a bit sweaty.

    ♦   Your digestive system – the part of the body that gets the nutrients from the food you eat – shuts down so that the fuel it was using to digest your food can be used by your arms and legs in case you have to fight or flee. (Don’t worry though – it won’t stay shut down for long.)

    You might feel like you have butterflies in your tummy. You might also feel sick, as though you’re going to vomit, and your mouth might feel a bit dry. 

    As you can see, there are very real reasons for your body feeling the way it does when you have anxiety. It’s all because your amygdala – that fierce warrior part of your brain – is trying to protect you by getting your body ready to fight or flee. Problem is – there’s nothing to fight or flee. Don’t worry though, there are things we can do about this.’

  • Explain how common anxiety in kids is.

    Anxiety in kids is common. About 1 in 8 kids have struggled with anxiety – so let them know that in their class, there’s a good chance that 3 or 4 other kids would know exactly what they’re going through because they’ve been through it before. Maybe they’re going through it right now.

  • Give it a name.

    ‘Now that you understand that your anxiety feelings come from the ‘heroic warrior’ part of your brain, let’s give it a name.’ Let your child pick the name and ask them what they think of when they picture it. This will help them to feel as though something else is the problem, not them. It also demystifies their anxiety. Rather than it being a nameless, faceless ‘thing’ that gets in their way, it’s something contained – with a name and a look. 

  • Now get them into position.

    ‘The problem with anxiety is that [whatever their ‘heroic warrior’ is called – for the moment, let’s say, ‘Zep’] Zep is calling all the shots but we know that you’re really the boss. Zep actually thinks it’s protecting you, so what you need to do is let it know that you’ve got this and that it can relax. When you get those anxious feelings, that means Zep is taking over and getting ready to keep you safe. It doesn’t think about it at all – it just jumps in and goes for it. What you need to do is to let it know that you’re okay. 

    The most powerful thing you can do to make yourself the boss of your brain again is breathe. It sounds so simple – and it is. Part of the reason you feel as you do is because your breathing has gone from strong and slow and deep to quick and shallow. That type of breathing changes the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body. Once your breathing is under control, Zep will stop thinking he has to protect you and he’ll settle back down. Then, really quickly after that, you’ll stop feeling the way you do.’ 

  • And breathe.

    Breathe deeply and slowly. Hold your breath just for a second between breathing in and breathing out. Make sure the breath is going right down into your belly – not just into your chest. You can tell because your belly will be moving. Do this about 5 to 10 times.

    Practice before bed every day. Remember that Zep, the warrior part of your brain, has been protecting you for your entire life so it might take a little bit of practice to convince Zep to relax. But keep practicing and you’ll be really good at it in no time. You and that warrior part of your brain will be buddies – but with you in control.

    One way to practice is by putting a soft toy on your child’s belly when they lie down. If the toy is moving up and down, their breathing is perfect. 

  • Practice mindfulness.

    An abundance of scientific research has demonstrated the profound effects of mindfulness.  MRI studies have shown that practicing mindfulness increases the density of gray matter in the brain, providing relief and protection from stress, anxiety and depression. See here for more information.

    Mindfulness doesn’t have to be complicated. Essentially, it’s being aware of the present moment, and there are plenty of fun ways introduce children to mindfulness.  

    Start by explaining that anxiety comes about because of worry about the future and what might happen. Sometimes these thoughts happen in the background – we don’t even know they’re there. Mindfulness helps you to have control over your brain so you can stop it from worrying about things it doesn’t need to. It trains your brain to stay in the here and now. The brain is like a muscle and the more you exercise it the stronger it gets. 

    It sounds easy enough but minds quite like to wander so staying in the moment can take some practice. Here’s the how:

    1. Close your eyes and notice your breathing. How does the air feel as you draw it inside you? Notice the sensation of the air, or your belly rising and falling. Notice your heart beating. If your mind starts to wander, come back to this.
    2. Now, what can you hear? What can you feel outside of you and inside your body? If your mind starts to wander, focus on your breathing again. 

Remember that anxiety in kids is very treatable but it might take time. Explain to your child that his or her very clever and very protective brain might need some convincing that just because it thinks there’s trouble coming, doesn’t mean there is. Keep practising and they’ll get there. 


A Book for Kids About Anxiety …

‘Hey Warrior’ is a book for children to help them understand anxiety and to find their ‘brave’. It explains why anxiety feels the way it does, and it will teach them how they can ‘be the boss of their brain’ during anxiety, to feel calm. It’s not always enough to tell kids what to do – they need to understand why it works. Hey Warrior does this, giving explanations in a fun, simple, way that helps things make sense in a, ‘Oh so that’s how that works!’ kind of way, alongside gorgeous illustrations. (See here for the trailer.)

 


 

 

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836 Comments

Lindsay Rutledge

First off I want to say thank you for the article. But I was wondering if you had any articles, suggestions, links etc. on the subject for me that might help with my 7yr old. His anxiety happens mostly at school. For example – he gets afraid of getting something wrong and letting his teacher (who doesn’t help /believe that he has anxiety issues) down as well as my husband and I. He went from absolutely loving school to already hating it. (this scares me) He has the famous tummy ache and not feeling good so he doesn’t have to deal with it. I can keep going with all kinds of things but I am hoping you can help… Thank you

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heysigmund

What does he think about his teacher? And how does the teacher respond when he gets anxious if they doesn’t believe he’s anxious? Is there some truth to his fears? Teachers are generally wonderful humans – I honestly believe that – and sometimes it can be a matter of giving them the benefit of the information that you have about your child. Your child might also be perceiving the teacher to be a certain way, and responding as though the perception is true. See what he things is going to happen and how he feels about his teacher. What would she say if he made a mistake? What does she say when other kids make mistakes? What does he like best about her? Least? It’s really hard to know without knowing more and it could also be that your son is ‘anxious about being anxious’. Have a look on the website under ‘Being Human’ then the ‘Anxiety’ tab and there is more information here. I find mindfulness is great with kids who worry about the future or about something they’ve done because it teaches them to focus on the present. Start with five minutes. It can take a bit of getting used to It’s really . Here is the link https://www.heysigmund.com/mindfulness-what-how-why/. I do it with my daughter and it’s amazing. I will be posting regularly on anxiety – I can see there’s such need for more information so keep checking back or all of the posts get put in the weekly newsletter if want to make sure you don’t miss anything. The subscribe is on the home page on the right.

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Nancy Smyth-Myers

Explained so much about how to control my warrior…and all symptoms. God BLESS YOU.

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Kira

Thank you so much for this article and the brilliant explanations. As someone who has never really dealt with anxiety myself, it was very difficult for me to understand or help my 14 year old daughter. This will definitely help us in our journey together through her anxiety.

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heysigmund

You’re so welcome. I’m so pleased this will be able to help you. It’s almost impossible to know what anxiety is like unless you’ve been through it – you’re not alone there. Thank you so much for making contact with me. My very best wishes to you and your family.

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Mommyof1

I am really glad I saw this article come through on my facebook.
My three and a half year old daughter faces more anxiety than any toddler I’ve met.
Her dad breezes through town every four months for two days (under supervised visitation because let’s face it she doesn’t know who he is) and she is confused about him. And it seems to cause her so much anxiety when he is around, but not to the point of an anxiety attack more the finger biting and nervousness type. I’m learning about how to keep her calm with that.
But I’d say her biggest source of anxiety is mascot type costumes. You know the big ones of penguins, reindeer, whatever she is terrified of them and in her gymnastics class if they say flicker is coming in (a big flame mascot) she goes into a full blown panic attack. I am still learning how to calm her down from this. We are learning slow deep breaths and teaching her it’s not going to hurt her and mommy would never let her get hurt. But I have not idea what else to do. She is terrified (and I have no idea why).

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heysigmund

I’m so pleased you found the article. It’s not unusual for kids not to like those mascots. I suppose when you see them they’re larger than life, and a bit of an unknown quantity. Just keep doing what you’re doing. I’m going to do a post about anxiety in smaller kids. I’ve seen a real need there with the responses to this post. Thank you for getting in touch!

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Julia

I have a 10 year old boy with high levels of anxiety. If these don’t help him, I can assure you they will help me!

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Lisa

Our 7 yr old has severe anxiety. She used to pick at her arms and legs and create sores. Then she went to nail biting then a constant cough or clearing her throat and now she is pulling her hair out of her scalp. I am so sad and worried for her. I’m going to use the mindfulness exercise with her tonight.

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heysigmund

The mindfulness exercise is a great idea. I’m so pleased you’re giving it a go. It really is amazing and I know that it works. Here is a link that talks about the way it changes the brain (for the better!) and the physical benefits. https://www.heysigmund.com/mindfulness-what-how-why/ It can take a little bit of getting used to so stay with it. If your daughter is really struggling with anxiety to the point where she’s hurting herself, she might really respond to counselling. It’s really important to do everything you are doing at home – counsellors only have them for an hour a week – but there are some really great therapies that are perfect for this kind of thing. What your describing isn’t unusual with anxiety – it’s not common, but it’s not unheard of either. One of the reason people do this is to self-soothe. The behaviour has a soothing effect on the nervous system. Therapy can help, and so will the mindfulness exercises. Your daughter will get through this. Thank you so much for taking the time to share you story. I know it helps other people so much to see how many people are going through this.

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Debbie

Hi my daughter is 17 now we have had a bad time with this fromm her being 13 but she was sh as well had to.go medical school as she couldn’t go mainstream was on all sorts off meds admitted to adolescents ward a few times was heartbreaking as I know what she is going through its so hard thank you,

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heysigmund

You’re welcome! I’ve been amazed at the number of people who are really going through it. It’s so hard when your kids are struggling like this and it’s so easy to feel powerless. It means so much to me that you and other people are sharing your stories. You’ll never know how many people you’re helping. Thank you so much for making contact.

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Tricia Japp

I have to be honest. I was a little cocky, after going through four years of counselling with my (soon to be) 11 year old and exhausting all of the strategies including CBT thought processing when she was 8, I thought we were at the end of the road for info that could possibly help. Not only did I find this incredibly interesting but it made my daughter feel a little more in control after learning why her anxiety was so active. She is currently weening off of meds and this article gives her a new found confidence, because arming yourself with knowledge is always comforting. Thank you.

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heysigmund

You’re so welcome. Information is such a powerful thing isn’t it and kids are so capable of making the connections. It’s such good news that your daughter is coming through the other side of her anxiety. Thank you for taking the time to get in touch.

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J

This is so great. I love your explanation for kids. I have been trying to find a way to explain to my son (10) on why he has anxiety and how it effects his body. This is perfect. Thank you so much.

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Claire

Hi, I have been through this with my 3.5 year old… For these past 3 years it has always been me and my son, but over these last 6 months I met a wonderful person and this has stirred up some emotions in him. He started getting over-protective of me and clingy and I thought it quite normal for a child to react that way in this situation. I made sure to keep giving him the same amount of attention so he doesn’t feel left out. Hugging him before he asks me to and spending more quality time with him even though it meant less time with my partner. As time went by we spent more time at my partner’s house and eventually my son’s behaviour started to change. He became more restless and active even at bedtime and during his sleep. I could feel that he had become anxious and would ask him if there is something bothering him but at this stage he doesn’t really know how to explain his own feelings. Things started to get a bit cranky as even us adults started getting frustrated with the situation, having to talk to him about his behaviour all the time, and we were all so exhausted that I just felt that the right thing was to go back home. As soon as we settled back there, he told me ”Now I am happy mummy because I want to stay here”. I felt the worse mum ever for putting my little one through those emotions and did not see it coming. Now I know that the move was making him more anxious than the fact that a new person came into our life and that I should have taken things slowly with him to give him the time to adjust at his own pace. I enjoyed reading your article as it is very mind-opening but I think it is difficult to explain things to a 3 year old. I don’t think he would really understand the concept of fight or flight even if I would explain it in a simpler way for him… He didn’t seem to understand the fact that we have to move out of my parents’ home one day (which he believes is his home since he’s born).

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Claire

Now I am worried because I know we have to move out eventually. I would appreciate your suggestions on how to talk to such a young child about anxiety and situations like these. Thank you in advance!
Much love and light…

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heysigmund

I’m going to be doing a post about dealing with anxiety in much smaller children as I can see a real need. In any case though, there will be some adjustment and your little man might take a while. He can only ever remember it being you and him, and having another person in your lives and moving to another place is massive. That certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, it just means that it may take a while. One of the things he may be wondering is ‘What next?’, so it may take him until he can trust that the move and a new person will be the end of the shake-ups for a while. You might find it will be better when you’re able to settle in one spot rather than moving between the two houses – when he has his room with his bed and his things and doesn’t have to switch between his home and ‘someone else’s home’. The changing around can cause some kids to feel really unsettled. Some adults too. Please please please don’t give yourself such a hard time about having to switch between houses. It’s impossible to see around corners and even if we could, there are going to be things that cause short term disruption for long term gain. You sound like a wonderful mum. Keep doing what you’re doing!

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Laura parsons

What a wonderful gift you have given so many parents out there with children and themselves suffering from this, so common but not talked about affliction. It was so sad to loose robin Williams this past year. I can’t help but think that if he had something like this article to help him in his younger years he would have been more in control of his anxiety Then maybe the world would not have lost such a wonderful creature as robin. Thank you once again. I will gladly share this on my facebook and hope that parents get the help and sometimes just a little understanding of what’s going on with either own Zeps. Thank you.

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heysigmund

Thank you so much for your beautiful comment. And thank you for sharing the information. It always means a lot to me when people do that. Information is such a powerful thing. Thank you!

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Rene

Oh how I wish I had this about 10 years ago, going to share with my 19 yo daughter in the hopes it might still help her.

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Brenda

Such an awesome article! I wish I had read it several years ago. Thank you for the great insight and explanations! I love it and know it will help with my grandchildren.
While I was reading this, my TV was on a program called Studio 5, in Salt Lake City, UT. They have a marriage and family psychologist (Matt Townsend) who was talking about children with anxiety. Matt Townsend recommended a free e book that he did not write but loves. http://playingwithanxiety.com/

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Erin McLane

I loved reading this article. Not only does my son have anxiety but autism as well. I think we will be able to talk about some of the strategies you mentioned, however we have a few other challenges. Any additional information you have would be welcomed. Thank you.

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heysigmund

You’re very welcome. I’m so pleased you found the article for your son. In terms of more information, there is other information about anxiety under the ‘Being Human’ tab on the home page. Click on ‘Anxiety’. I generally post 4-5 articles a week. They all get pushed through to Facebook as soon as they’re written but the best way to make sure that you don’t miss anything is to sign up to the Newsletter (the sign-up is on the right hand side of the home page. The posts that have been written that week get published on the newsletter which gets sent out every Friday. Thank you so much for making contact.

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mm

My five year old suffers from anxiety at kindergarten. The teacher recocgnizes it but Dosen t know how to handle it. The class is overcrowded and i believe she just thinks of this as another issue she has no time to address. How can i help my child. He know longer wants to go to school.

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heysigmund

It’s so difficult for teachers when they have a crowded class. There’s only so much that even the most brilliant teacher can do – and most of them seem to be pretty brilliant. Some kids are really affected by crowded, noisy classrooms and some seem to cope just fine. (I have a daughter who is one of the ones really affected by it and we ended up changing schools because the class was going to stay the same through to high school). Try the strategies in the article. The idea is to teach the kids how to calm themselves. They can take a little while to master, so encourage your son to stay with it. Just be mindful of the very real environmental factors that might be contributing. I hope your son is able to find some relief soon. Thank you for taking the time to leave your comment.

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Sarah

Beautiful! I used it with my 9 year old last night. You should think about adapting this into a picture book and getting it published. There is definitely a need for anxiety resources written for children.

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Sherri

I liked your article for the most part. I think it’s helpful to both the sufferer and their families to put into terms they can relate to what the person is going through. But speaking as an adult (now 45) that had anxiety as a child and all my life, I feel it only addresses part of the explanation. I think it’s a great start to helping children and adults understand what’s going wrong. But if someone is suffering from anxiety or they’re watching a loved one suffer they need more help. Working on breathing properly is and was hugely important in my getting better but it’s only part of the “cure”. I will always have this issue to one degree or another but for the last 5 1/2 years I have been better than I ever was, even as a child, without prescription drugs. The 7 years prior to that I went from doctor to doctor trying to find help for accute anxiety, insomnia and headaches. Which resulted in many drugs being pushed at me for several years. Sometimes they seemed to help for awhile but they never fixed the problem or got to the root cause. I really feel that understanding it as this article suggests is helpful, but it will never by itself make the problem go away for someone that is deeply in the clutches of full blown anxiety. I tried many ‘alternative’ routes as well as main stream medicine, with small measures of improvement. But when I tried addressing the physical needs that my body and many others with this same issue have, I saw real gains in my health and mental and emotional wellness. I do have one concern with articles such as this, and it is the misunderstanding that some have that you can somehow reason or think your way out of this illness. While it is greatly connected to and with your brain that is not all there is to it. I tell people frequently that trying to talk or reason your way out of anxiety or depression is like trying to talk yourself out of diabetes or high cholesterol! No one would ever dream of doing such a thing but they feel as though it were perfectly acceptable to do so with someone with generalized anxiety. It infuriates me that some in the medical community, and I’m not saying the author of this article is one of them, feel as though since they can’t cure something or explain it then it must be ‘in your head’ so to speak. So in their mind, the sick person must be able to ‘think’ their way out of it. Again no one would ever be so cruel as to insinuate such a thing to someone with a ‘real’ disease.
However, I did and do get real relief from supplements that target the physical weakness that I and apparently many other have. I take very specific vitamins and minerals that help calm and support my nervous system. And while, as I said I’ll never be cured of this illness; in much the same way that someone with diabetes will always need to be aware of and address their illness, so must I. But I am able to sleep all night again on my own without prescription drugs and I can go about my life without the constant dread that comes with generalized anxiety. I hate to see anyone suffer from this horrible disease, especially little children, and if I’m able to help anyone recover from it I think it’s worth my time in talking about it with others.

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heysigmund

Thank you for taking the time to comment, though I am concerned that perhaps you have misunderstood the point of the article. In no way does this article suggest that anxiety is ‘in your head’. In fact, just the opposite, hence the detailed description of the physical basis. I’m very sorry if anyone in the medical or health community has ever suggested to you that it was otherwise – such a suggestion is disrespectful and ill-informed. Perhaps the confusion is around the discussion of anxiety becoming ‘anxiety about getting anxious’. Again, this is in no way suggesting that anxiety is ‘in your head’, but rather that the anticipation of becoming anxious can be enough to trigger a very real and very physical fight or flight response. There is no suggestion that someone can reason or talk themselves out of anxiety, but rather that by understanding the physical nature of the fight or flight response, people can understand that anxiety has a physical basis and they can thereby work on physically reversing the symptoms by such measures as deep breathing or exercise.

I’m so pleased that you have been able to find ways to gain relief. Perhaps your suggestions will help others. I hope this has clarified the intention of this article. Thank you again for taking the time to comment.

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paula baylis

Have a son with School Phobia about to turn 16. Taught separately fighting to get through his exams with double pressure of having to now be in education till 18. His about to walk around the block in the dark for the second night on the trot to challenge himself as discussed with his clinical psychologist, tomorrow we have a careers meeting at 8.30 but the thought of walking to school whilst the other kids are about is a nightmare for him. We are waiting to see a psychiatrist and potentially go on medication to take him through this difficult time. I wish he saw anxiety as common and quite normal rather than feeling exposed. This sums it up really well, thank you for sharing.

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heysigmund

Your welcome. You’re so right about how common anxiety is. One of the reasons I’m so incredibly grateful to everybody who has left a comment on this post is because is speaks to everyone of how common it actually is. There’s so much going on at this age isn’t there. You’re doing all the right things. He will get through this. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

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Alison

Wow…what an absolutely wonderful insight into anxiety. I wish that I had known this 21 years ago. My daughter has suffered since she was about 5 and I did not know how to handle it. She is 26 now and handles it very well. I just wish that I had known how to help her all of those years ago.

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heysigmund

You would have been a huge part of the reason she got through it. Her struggles would have given her so many skills and qualities that have made her into the woman she is. I honestly believe people come through this sort of thing as stronger and better people for the experience. I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. There will be a lot of people who read it who are able to take hope from hearing that people get through – which they do.

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Crystal Sada

Childbirth coping skills…breathing and mindfulness. Excellent article!

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Cristina

Brilliant. I am 39 years old and my little guy is just 3 years old. Since delivering him I have been crippled by crushing and paralyzing anxiety. Adding to my anxieties is the chance that he will one day soon exhibit symptoms as I have read and heard it is genetic? I have been on nearly every medication available and currently am weaning off meds to see if I am better in fact off the medications. Scary times for us. Thank you for being a voice!

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heysigmund

Thank you! There does seem to be a genetic vulnerability but you have to remember that genes aren’t destiny. There are plenty of things that make people vulnerable to anxiety – many, I expect, that we still don’t know about – genetics is just one. And it is just a vulnerability – not a given. Just because it’s in your genes doesn’t mean it will be passed down to your son and even if it is, it doesn’t mean that he will experience anxiety in the same way as you. You have so much insight now about anxiety and you get it because you’ve been there. I really hope you are able to move forward through your anxiety. Don’t let the chance of your little man one day being anxious derail you. There are so many factors at play and even if he does exhibit symptoms they can be managed. Thank you so much for making contact.

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heather oconnell

Thank you so much for writing and sharing this article. It is written so clearly and a wonderful tool for me. Your approach to this is spot on and I will use gems from this article with my sensitive son and breath myself! Thank you

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Heather

Our 11 year old has extreme anxiety in school, a by-product of her developing PANDAS when she was 6. She has been sent home sick from school on days that she is supposed to perform in music class, or be expected to speak in front of the class. She performs poorly on tests as well, even though we don’t punish or even register disappointment with her test scores. I’ve been working with her on similar techniques, but these are fabulous and I will have her read the article. Hoping it will help her learn to relax herself when I’m not around to help.

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heysigmund

Thank you! I’m so pleased this has been able to help you. You get it – the more your daughter is able to learn the techniques, the more easily she’ll be able to access them when she needs them. The techniques might take a bit of time and practice to master because they are the opposite to what she would be used to doing, but it will be worth it. I hope she finds some relief soon. Thank you so much for making contact.

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Holly

My husband and I just realized our 16 yr. old daughter is suffering from anxiety. I believe, looking back, that she’s probably had it for a long time but, I tried to diminish the issue and didn’t fully listen or try to understand. Myself and her grandmother suffer to varying degrees but, not to the point where it affects our everyday lives. With her, it is beginning to and I don’t want her missing out on lives wonderful adventures, as well as, having to deal with stresses, because she doesn’t know how to handle them. I will be showing her this article in the hopes that she will read and try the suggestions you have provided. As a parent, I thank you for helping me to better understand so I can better help her.

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heysigmund

You’re so welcome. I hope the information is able to help your daughter. It’s so easy to miss the signs, especially in the beginning so don’t give yourself a hard time. She will make it through this, and it will be because of the things she learns along the way – and she will learn plenty – that she will have qualities and skills that will contribute to her being an amazing young woman. Thank for making contact and sharing your story.

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