Child Anxiety Program

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The Child Anxiety Program was established in 2004 as a speciality treatment program for children with anxiety disorders; however, you may be asking yourself: “What are anxiety disorders?”

Specific Phobias are an intense fear of a certain object, situation, or event that is generally not a realistic threat or danger. When presented with the specific object or situation, the person experiences extreme anxiety and fear often causing them to avoid the situation or object. While everyone experiences some mild fears and anxieties, phobias are different because they are extreme and interfere with a person’s day-to-day life.  There are many different types of specific phobias and people can have more than one at a time.

Social Phobias are also known as Social Anxiety Disorder. People with social phobia fear public and social situations. These situations cause intense anxiety and self-consciousness and make the person unable to relax because he/she feels like they are being scrutinized, judged, and/or criticized by others.   The key concern in social phobia is a worry that one may behave in a way that will make him/her appear "stupid" or "foolish" to others.  Many people with social phobia try to avoid social situations in order to avoid feelings of ridicule or embarrassment.  Social phobia may be specific as in fears of public speaking or ordering food in a restaurant or it may be generalized, causing worry about embarrassment in a wide array of social situations.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a disorder that causes a person to constantly worry and to often fear the worst in any given situation. These worries and fears are numerous, generally unfounded or out of proportion given the circumstances, and occurring across a wide range of domains (e.g., worries about family, finances, performance, health). Often, individuals demonstrating behaviors consistent with GAD are often regarded as "worrywarts." GAD not only causes emotional distress but can also cause physical problems such as trouble sleeping, muscle tension, and headaches.

Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by great distress when a child is separated from major figures in his/her life (parents, grandparents, siblings, etc.).  Children often worry that something bad will happen to their parents, for example, or to themselves while they are separated from each other. The major worry in a child with separation anxiety disorder is that the child will not be reunited with his or her parents.  SAD might display itself as difficulty leaving parents for school in the mornings, extreme distress when parents plan to go out for the night (without the child), frequent trips to the school nurse to call home during the school day, or difficulty sleeping independently.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is made up of two major components; obsessions and compulsions.  An obsession is an intrusive thought, image or idea that keeps coming back over and over and causes increasing anxiety.   A compulsion is a repeated behavior that is acted out in order to reduce the distress or anxiety caused by the obsession.  In most cases the child feels as if he or she must perform the compulsion in order to reduce feelings or anxiety or to prevent some event from happening. 

Panic Disorder is the occurrence of sudden and severe anxiety attacks.  These attacks are called panic attacks and may consist of shortness of breath, upset stomach, dizziness, sweating, heart palpitations, and fear of dying or losing control.  The attacks come "out of the blue" and reach an intense level of anxiety very quickly.  The child and/or parents may have no idea why or how the anxiety began.