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What it is: Anxiety is a cognitive, emotional, and physiological experience that involves fear or worry of an outcome that has not yet occurred. It can also include fears or worries about how a person behaved in a past situation (e.g., social anxiety). The experience of anxiety includes thoughts (e.g., “I’m going to screw this up”), behaviors (e.g., avoidance), and physiological arousal (e.g., a panic attack). Individuals with anxiety often struggle with unfamiliar, unknown, uncertain or unplanned experiences and may adopt coping mechanisms that get in the way of their everyday lives (e.g., social isolation, avoidance of anxiety triggers, or over-controlling/over-planning their lives to reduce uncertainty). In children and adolescents, anxiety can manifest as school avoidance, repeatedly asking questions or seeking reassurance, requiring assistance with tasks in ways that are inconsistent with their developmental stage, having difficulty being apart from caregivers, or having considerable difficulty accepting changes in schedules, living arrangements, or expectations.
Associated Concerns: Anxiety concerns often co-occur with symptoms of mood disturbance, insomnia, and physical health concerns that can be exacerbated by anxiety (e.g., gastro-intestinal concerns, chronic pain conditions, or high blood pressure). Substance abuse can occur if individuals attempt to use substances to reduce anxiety in difficult situations. Caregivers of anxious youth often experience difficulties in parenting or communicating with their youth and, at times, a child's anxiety can be disruptive to overall family functioning.
For children who refuse treatment: It is not unusual for anxious youth to refuse to attend treatment. If that is the case, we offer a caregiver-focused intervention called SPACE training.
Evidence Based Treatments offered: CBT, DBT, self-compassion, SPACE
Medication may also be helpful.
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