Anxiety Disorder in Children of Divorce

When fear takes over and the person becomes dysfunctional, psychologists speak of Anxiety Disorders. Many people suffer from AD. It can be diagnosed and it can be treated.

How your Child can Overcome Anxiety

Your children need to be confident. You want them to feel secure and at comfort. Not anxious. The Anxiety-Free Child Program teaches your children how they can get rid of their anxiety.

Anxiety is a normal thing. It prevents us from harm. When important events come up, it pushes us to prepare ourselves. It warns us whenever we have to take action.

If we get really scared, anxiety may parallise us.

Probably all of us recognize these situations. There is an important exam coming up. You enter into a similar situation in which you have hurt yourself badly in the past. You meet again with a person that has treated you badly in the past. All these situations might make you anxious. It is a normal thing and we should not be worried about being anxious in these situations.

But if you feel anxious all the time when doing your daily things, it is not normal any more. You cease to function in a constructive way. If anxiety is taking over your daily life, we speak of Anxiety Disorder.

Anxiety Disorder is the most common psychiatric diseasy. It affects both children and adults.

Children of Divorce might experience a lot of stress and fear during or after the divorce, which can result in AD.

There are several categories of the illness:

  • Generalized AD
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Disorder & Agoraphobia
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Social AD
  • Specific Phobias

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

One speaks of Generalized AD when a person has unrealistic, excessive and persistent worries about everyday things. Symptoms

People with the disorder often expect the worst. Usually when there is no apparent reason for concern. They expect disaster. They are overly concerned about all kinds of issues like , work, health, money and family. GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems When these symptoms last for more than 6 months, General AD (or GAD) is diagnosed.

People with GAD are cought in a vicious circle of worry. They usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants, but they feel breaking out of it is beyond their control. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety.

In the U.S.A. almost 7 million adults, or over 4% of the women and 2% of men are affected by GAD (over 3% of the total population).

The anxiety disorder kicks in slowly at any age. The risk is the highest between 15 and 50. The exact causes of GAD are unknown. Biological factors, family background and stressful life experiences contribute. A divorce is a stressful life experience for children.

Persons diagnosed with GAD can function socially and can contribute in a work situation when their anxiety level is not high yet. Although, due to the disorder, they may avoid specific situations. However, when the anxiety level is high, the patients become completely disfunctional.

Treatment

GAD can be treated. For many patients, Cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective. It helps them to identify, understand, and modify biased thinking and behavior. Additionally, medication can be prescribed.

Alternative treatments like excercise, meditation, yoga, reiki and relaxation techniques may also become part of a treatment plan.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Symptoms

An obsession is an intrusive and persistent thought that one can't get out of his head. When someone has an obsession, but tries to easy the anxiety by repeatedly performing ritualistic behaviors and routines (compulsions), he probably suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Most adules suffering from OCD are aware that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational, but they are not able to stop them.

Children with OCD do not realize that their obsessions and compulsions are excessive.

OCD patients spend hours a day focusing on obsessive thoughts and performing seemingly senseless rituals. These can interfere with a person&squo;s daily routine, school, job, family, friends and social activities.

Left untreated, OCD can interfere with all aspects of life.

Treatment

Contact your physician or a therapist. He or she will make a treatment plan. If the disease is not treated, the patient can become dysfunctional.

Panic Disorder & Agoraphobia

Symptoms

A person with sudden panic attacks and who are preoccupied with reoccurrence might suffer from panic disorder. The attacks come unexpected, even when they are asleep.

In the U.S.A. about 6 million people suffer from panic disorder. Again, women suffer twice as much from the disease as men.

Many patients suffer in silence. They are afraid to tell about their panic attacks to anyone. This way they take a distance from a doctor or from their loved ones who can help them.

The disorder occurs often with other physical or mental disorders, like other anxiety disorders, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma and substance abuse. This makes it difficult to diagnose correctly.

Agoraphobia

Is when a person avoids a place where he or she has experienced a panic attack. This may involve avoiding places where it is difficult to escape from, like a stadion, a concert hall, the subway or a shopping mall. It makes their world smaller and smaller.

Treatment

Like other disorders, panic disorder and agoraphobia can be treated by a therapist. However, not everybody responds in a positive way. If the disorder is combined with another anxiety disorder, the treatment becomes more complex. Some patients improve within a few month, while others may experience improvements only after over 1 year.

Self help

There are self help kits to deal with panic attacks available on the internet.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Symptoms

PSD is a consequence of experiencing a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, a sudden death of a close relative, a life threatening event, a rape, a serious accident or being a victim of a violent personal attack.

Normal people will get over it, but when a person remains heavily depressed and anxious for many months, he is suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.

In the U.S.A. about 8 million people suffer from PSD. Women twice as many as men.

2/3 rd of those who experienced mass violence suffer from PSD.

Treatment

Psychotherapy and / or medication are the main treatments. The treatment must be done by an experienced PSD therapist.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Symptoms

The patients are very anxious to be scrutinized in public and being judged by others.

They have a very low self-esteem and they feel ashamed. As a result, they try to avoid social and romantic relationships. They stay far from others and as a result they are lonely.

In the U.S.A. about 15 million people are suffering from SAD. Typically, it starts at the age of 13 and on average it takes 10 years before a patient seeks help.

People with SAD recognize their problem of excessive and unrealistic fear, but they cannot escape from it.

Treatment

Like other disorders, SAD can be treated by a therapist. However, not everybody responds in a positive way. If the disorder is combined with another anxiety disorder, the treatment becomes more complex. Some patients improve within a few month, while others may experience improvements only after over 1 year.

Specific Phobias

Symptoms

People having a Specific Phobia have excessive and unreasonable fears when facing or anticipating a specific object, place, or situation.

Examples are: not being capable to enter an elevator, being afraid to cross a bridge or fearing being in a small room, being afraid of (an) animal(s) and fearing the dentist.

The specific phobias reduce the self confidence, limit the work efficiency, disrupt daily routines and even disrupts relationships. A person with a specific phobia does anything to avoid the fearful situation.

Specific phobias can develop at any age and unexpectedly.

People with a specific phobia recognize their problem of excessive and unrealistic fear, but they cannot escape from it.

Treatment

Like other anxiety disorders, a specific disorder can be treated by a therapist. However, not everybody responds in a positive way. If the disorder is combined with another anxiety disorder, the treatment becomes more complex. Some patients improve within a few month, while others may experience improvements only after over 1 year.

The treatment must be personalized. Some standardized methods have been developed.

For self help: The Anxiety-Free Child Program

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