Lately I have noticed there have been enquiries that have come in from parents who have been concerned about whether what their child is experiencing is anxiety, a behavioural issue or just part and parcel of growing up. It can be difficult for parents who are immersed in their family situation to get some clarity around this.
In general, the rule of thumb is if there are no significant disruptions to their daily lives, and no significant changes to their everyday functioning, and if the episode passes relatively quickly (couple of days, a week) then perhaps it is part of the cycle of growing up and facing everyday challenges. However, if there seems to be significant changes such as refusing to go to school, impacted sleep, withdrawal from friends and activities that used to be a source of joy, significant physical symptoms (headaches, breathlessness, shakiness, dizzy spells) that are persistent and not easing, or if they are cyclical, they keep coming back – it is worth investigating. These could point to an anxiety and/or mood disorder. It could also be part of a broader profile of other learning or developmental conditions that may be causing anxiety or a mood fluctuation. There are some key circumstances we would definitely say warrants professional help – thoughts of self harm, suicidal impulses and panic attacks. These are signals of significant distress. In young children, regressing to former stages such as bed wetting, nail biting, having nightmares that do not ease, and increased irritability could also suggest something more is going on.
The following blogs written by our Psychologists will be helpful for more information:
Valerie Ling, MClin Psych, BA(Hons), MAPS, Clinical Psychologist has a passion for helping people find their voice and continue to write their life’s story. Committed to prevent burnout and empowering individuals to life an effective life, she is the Director and Founder of The Centre For Effective Living.