Child Anxiety Disorder?


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Okay, so I will take advice from anyone. But if there are any other parents out there going through this, I could really use advice. I apologize that this post is going to be long, but I wanted to make sure it is understood.

My 7 year old daughter (super precious to me and completely adorable) has really bad anxiety attacks. For those of you that are not familiar with it, let me give you an real life example.

It was bed time and my daughter was in bed, I kiss her goodnight and ask her casually, "so what did you have for lunch today?" She responds, then I ask "do you know if you are going to have hot or cold lunch tomorrow?" (referencing if she was going to bring a lunch or eat one provided at school. She then looks at me like I said something insulting and yells "I don’t know!" and starts breathing heavy and panicking. I then reassure her that it's fine and we will figure it out and change the subject to something that she doesn’t have to respond to. Mind you it isn’t all the time, but it can be small things like this that set her off. Normally they are followed by what you would consider a normal tantrum, but at the peak of screaming stomping feet, breathing heavy, inaudible speech where it normally turns into a regular sob and seeking for comfort, it continues. Sometimes for 20+ minutes.

Here is what we have done to try to get help.

1. We have gone to our pediatrician and she gave us a prescribed a small dose of medicine that "could" help. We have seen a help in regards to how frequent the major outbursts are, but seem to make the outbursts worse when they do happen

2. We tried a psychologist (no medicine involved). We did weekly visits for over a month, but stopped because it was not helping. The psychologist solely tried to help her deal with the feelings, which was good, but we felt that we as parents needed to be taught to help her deal with those feelings and how we should react or deal with them.

3. Pray and Fast. We have been going through this for about a year now and she is always in our prayers and when we fast it involves her.

Any suggestions? I feel bad that at the tender age of 7 she may need higher concentrations of medicine and use of a psychiatrist (uses medicine). If anyone else has been dealing with this I could use a couple if lines for support. Thanks everyone!

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Is she having problems with school? Not in understanding the subject matter but understanding what is expected or going to be expected? Perhaps she feels like she is supposed to know things that she has no way of knowing because she hasnt been told or had it explained?

She does sound a bit stressed out.

She is doing well in school. She acts fine, no outbursts. I think she is able to "let lose" at home and maybe she keeps it all in at school. Her teacher says she is great. She struggled with reading for a while, but she is back on track now. Her home work is always a task to motivate her.

She isnt ever violent, she doesnt get mouthy. Although she will be defiant.

She really is a sweet child. I know it sounds like she is terrible. Most of the time she does well. As long as nothing goes wrong...

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I dont think she sounds terrible at all. I would guess she wants to do well and if she doesnt do it as well as she thinks she should she gets mad at herself. lol but then again I dont know her. :)

Get her a pair of boxing gloves and a punching bag to take out her frustration on. :) Cant hurt and might be good for you too!

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I saw this post and was wondering if you have found any additional help or suggestions since your post. I know this is a public forum, but your situation sounds relatively familiar. I'm curious about 'home' life. Meaning, how are mom and dad's relationship with each other and toward her? Please know that I'm not implying that you are creating any of this. Quite the opposite. I've learned (the hard way) that some children and adults are very intune with the spirit of the home. I have struggled with anxiety my entire life, as has one of my son's. In the last month I've been able to have a greater understanding of this, but I don't know if this is something you've already explored. A priesthood blessing may bring some peace and understanding to her, and you.

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How is she after the freak out?

My daughter has anxiety as well. I believe she needs her freak out moment to stabilize her emotions. We have done therapy. We were taught some breathing and relaxing techniques to help but when she is in her moment she doesn't do them. We have refused medicine as there are no studies that can tell me how the drugs affect a growing brain. But we did put her on Omega 3 supplements. I don't know if it has helped or if she is just maturing but she is doing better than a year ago, and a big improvement from 2 years ago! Her freak-outs are shorter and not so dramatic.

ETA: my daughter is 7 as well

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First, I wouldn't take psychiatric drugs from a pediatrician. It's not their area, get an opinion from a real pediatric psychologist/psychiatrist. But the meds, at best, will only cover it - even on them, and even if they work, she's going to need to learn good, proactive coping techniques.

You and your daughter are going to need GOOD counseling, to learn good, solid, proven techniques to help her progress.

The problem is finding the GOOD counseling, there are a surprising number that leave much to be desired.

Start learning techniques now, because progress will be slow.

How much sleep is she getting each night? Lack of sleep will amplify about any negative personality trait, and at 7 years old, she still needs about 10-11 hours per night. My 6-year-old son has some pretty minor personality issues that we're working on, but if he's been short on sleep for a couple of nights... the way he acts would just about qualify him for medication! :lol:

Edited by ClickyClack
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Thanks everyone for your comments. I hadn’t been notified that anyone commented, and I didn’t check. Sorry.

Sonriendo – Family life is great. We try to create an atmosphere of love and understanding. She listens a little better to me, but I think that is because I am a little louder. Not yelling, just louder by nature. I also appreciate the priesthood blessing suggestion. I often forget that we have that extra faucet of help for us. Maybe I need to do monthly ones with the kids. I know it would be beneficial for them and myself give and receive one.

Normaje – She seems truly sorry after freaking out. When we talk to her though, she also seems truly confused at why she is feeling angry or over touchy. When we can get through to her before a complete meltdown she will do the breathing techniques with us. But after a certain point it almost needs to run its course. I will look into the Omega 3 Supps.

ClickyClack – Sorry, the medicine was more for headaches, but was told it could help with the anxiety. I think your advice is wise however. Sometimes we think the title “Doctor” means they should be able to figure everything out, at least we hope they can. She is getting plenty of sleep.

Bcguy - I think it is definitely in the genes somewhere. Just not this early in life. My side of the family has some history of depression. My wife has anxiety herself, but is on some meds to help with that. She understands it different since it didn’t hit my wife until after having children (very understandable :D ) but she doesn’t understand how it feels to a 7 year old.

I think the direction I feel like going after reading the comments and thinking about this more is that she is 7 years old. Not that I am impatient verbally or otherwise toward her, but I am impatient inside of myself. As an adult I can rationally see when I am feeling a way that doesn’t make sense and try to correct that, but I cannot expect her to. I think if I continue to help with breathing and show love and understanding that eventually she will be able to manage some of that for herself. If it escalates, I will consider a Psychiatrist and medication. Maybe I search for a new counselor and try that again also.

All I know is that she means everything to me and we will do whatever it takes to help her. My heart aches when I see her struggle with it, and she tells me she doesn’t know why.

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My 7 yr old daughter has been in treatment for a few years for anxiety and selective mutism. Here is some advice from a fellow traveler:

1) Not all psychologists, counselors, and therapists are cut from the same cloth. Cognitive behavioral treatments have the strongest evidence base for anxiety disorders. For young children behavioral approaches are great. If you don't know what I am talking about, that is fine. If a therapist doesn't know what I am talking about then you have a problem. Psychodynamic therapies do not work for children.

2) Some things that you can do that will help: 1) remove all forms of punishment (spanking, time in closed rooms, yelling, nagging, etc) from your parenting, 2) Create a clear schedule, especially with summer so she knows what is going to be expected from day to day, 3) make sure that she isn't engaging in cleanliness or other anxiety decreasing rituals, hair pulling, or refusal to talk, because those are possibly much larger problems than simple anxiety (OCD, trichotillomania, and selective mutism). Some aggression and agitation could be depression or anxiety related keep that in mind in her relationships with you and her siblings.

3) Medications can work if combined with GOOD therapy.

4) Prayer, blessings, scripture study and keeping in touch with your personal values is extremely important. As parents my wife and I have had to do this to help us with the anxiety and depression feelings that are partially a result of our daughter's problems. We have been through a lot with her!

These are a few things that might help. I wish you well. If you have further questions, feel free to ask.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Therapy and medication were the answer for my daughter, who was 9 when the anxiety reached crisis level. Don't dismiss medication out of hand; for my child, the medication took the anxiety to a level where she could employ the techniques learned in therapy. Without the meds, the anxiety would run away with her and she'd be unable to do anything about it.

When people claim that meds "cover" I don't understand what they mean. The right meds help the child be her truest self. If a child is "doped" then they're not on the right drug or the right dose. I understand that meds alone are not a fix, that therapy + medication is the gold standard.

Richards is spot on.

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  • 4 months later...

Update on my daughter! So we have been taking her for the past while to an LDS family services therapist instead of a regular one you might find anywhere. He is an older gentleman, and let me tell you. It has been wonderful. I think that my daughter responds better to an older grandfatherly like person. We regulated her medicine a little and with the therapists help and ideas, things have actually been going rather well.

She will appear ready to explode and now recognise what is happening and begin breathing slowly and calm down. Of course this is not 100% of the time, but THAT is normal.

Thank you all for your advice and support!

For anyone else that has a child to go through this. I am not out of the woods, and do not feel we ever will be, but patience and long long long suffering has been the key for us. Children cannot learn to cope with problems the way adults can. Just make sure you dont look at it from an adult standpoint.

Prayer, fasting, more prayer, more fasting, a good LDS therapist and medicine. That was the answer for us.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Try giving her some times of calm and quiet to just think about how she feels. Being aware of our feelings is important, and understanding that feelings are OK to have - even anger, anxiety, frustration. Actions such as yelling, screaming, etc. aren't, but the FEELINGS are OK.

This is true. In my Human Development class, we discussed how not understanding feelings can be very scary for children. Maybe try "labeling" what she's feeling? It could help her understand that what she's feeling (confusion, stress) is normal, and then you could help her deal with it? (like how you discussed what to do with lunch).

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  • 8 months later...

Hi there, It's really not better happened to them who are suffering from child anxiety but don't worry. Your problem will be recovered soon. There are some experts who will solve your problem with no any delay. Occasionally the children become angry when they don't get the thing which they want. And sometimes they become furious, and angry even with the little things. This might happen due to something they are not getting what they want. Anyways you can go to this link a here on child anxiety and visit the site there. You can see the experts ready to solve your problem.

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