Anxiety Signs, Symptoms & Effects In Children

Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of anxiety is an important part of the effort to get treatment for a child or adolescent. At Little Creek Behavioral Health in Conway, Arkansas, we’re proud to be a source of information and comprehensive care for young people ages 12-18 who have been struggling with anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Understanding Anxiety

Learn about anxiety

Anxiety is an emotion that many of us experience in response to stress. However, children who have anxiety disorders are worried more frequently and more intensely than other individuals. Children and adolescents who have this mental health condition can find it difficult to manage their fears. This lack of control regarding their concerns often has an impact on their daily functioning. 

A young person who has this condition typically experiences fear, distress, and excessive concern about theiperformance in school, sports, or other areas of their life. These emotions may cause them to conform to children around them, exhibit perfectionist tendenciesand display hesitancy about their own skills and abilities.  

Children and adolescents who have anxiety disorders may also seek continual approval and reassurance from parents and teachers in response to their worries about personal accomplishments. As a result of these emotions, children who have this mental health condition may also display difficulty in social situations along with physical symptoms such as jumpiness and restlessness. As a child grows oldertheir fears and concerns often extend to other minor and major areas of their life that reflect new responsibilities, such as work, finances, health, punctualityand household chores. This excess fear and worry can negatively impact your child’s life, so it is vital to seek personalized care. 

Children may experience symptoms of anxiety as a result of a medical condition. In such cases, a child will not be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, so it is important to receive an accurate diagnosis from a mental health professional. This will allow your child to engage in the services they need to appropriately manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. 


Statistics about anxiety

The National Institute of Mental Health and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5have collected the following statistics on anxiety disorders in the United States: 

  • Within a 12-month period, an estimated 0.9% of adolescents were living with anxiety disorders. 
  • Anxiety disorders are more common in female adolescents (38%) than in male adolescents (26.1%). 
  • Of adolescents who are living with anxiety disorders, approximately 8.3% are severely impaired. 

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for anxiety

A range of factors, both environmental and genetic, can contribute to the development of anxiety disordersWhile there is no guarantee that a child who has these risk factors will be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, some factors that may increase their risk for experiencing this condition include: 

  • Family history of anxiety disorders or depression 
  • Tendency to withdraw from new or unfamiliar people, situations, and places 
  • A history of frequent anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, or depressed mood 
  • An excessively shy or pessimistic personality 

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of anxiety

Young people who are struggling with anxiety disorders may experience a range of physical, behavioral, and mental symptomsChildren and adolescents who are living with this mental health condition may present differently based on the symptoms they are experiencing. 

Physical symptoms: 

  • Restlessness 
  • Easily fatigued 
  • Muscle tension 
  • Difficulty sleeping 

Behavioral symptoms: 

  • Poor performance in school 
  • Withdrawing from social relationships 

Mental symptoms: 

  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Irritability 
  • Lack of control over feelings of worry and concern 


Effects of anxiety

If a child or adolescent is living with an untreated anxiety disorder, they can potentially experience the following adverse effects: 

  • Difficulty with interpersonal relationships 
  • Development of a drug or alcohol addiction 
  • Poor performance in school 
  • Legal troubles 
  • Development of stress-related medical conditions 

An untreated anxiety disorder may cause your child to experience difficulty functioning at home, in school, and in the community. If your child receives personalized services for an anxiety disorder, they have an increased chance of living a healthy life while coping with the symptoms of this mental health condition. 

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among children and adolescents who have anxiety

Children and adolescents who are struggling with anxiety disorders may also be experiencing other mental health conditions. Common co-occurring disorders among young people who suffer from anxiety disorders include: 

  • Depression 
  • Substance use disorders 
  • Conduct disorders 
  • Psychotic disorders 
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders 
  • Neurocognitive disorders 

If unaddressed, these mental health conditions can complicate your child’s ability to recover from an anxiety disorder. Consult a mental health professional if you would like to learn more about anxiety disorders or if you have concerns about your child’s behavior and mood. 

Little Creek Behavioral Health provides comprehensive mental health programming to improve your child’s ability to cope with symptoms of mental health conditions. Our facility offers services that address the unique mental health needs of each young person who seeks our care. 

Marks of Quality Care
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval