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Just like adults, children have worries and anxieties. There are many things that can affect a child, and at different ages. While these are a normal part of growing up, if it’s starting to affect their overall health and well-being, extra support may be needed.

Anxiety is the feeling of fear or panic. Most of us when worried about something, like an exam or presentation, will calm down and feel better after the event is over. But for some people, this feeling doesn’t go away. When the panic stays or grows even stronger, anxiety can become a problem. For children, this can be very scary and confusing.

According to Young Minds, one in six young people will experience anxiety.

Anxiety in children

Anxiety in children becomes a problem when it affects their daily life. Because it’s a normal reaction, a parent may not know what their child is feeling, and so the severity of the anxiety is not always clear. Also, there are many times a child will experience anxious feelings throughout their childhood. For example, between eight months to three years, separation anxiety is common. This is, however, a normal stage in a child’s development, and tends to ease off at around two years. It’s when the feelings don’t go away that further steps need to be considered.

Young children experiencing anxiety may not understand their feelings, or know how to express them, so it’s important you know the signs to spot. Signs of anxiety in children include:

  • irritable, clingy or tearful behaviour
  • difficulty sleeping or waking in the night
  • nightmares
  • lack of confidence
  • lack of concentration
  • loss of appetite
  • avoiding everyday activities, like socialising or going to school

Depression in children

Depression is a mood disorder which often develops alongside anxiety. While it’s normal to feel down some of the time, when sad thoughts are lasting a long time or stopping someone from enjoying life, it can help to talk to someone – like a professional.

Many signs of depression are similar to when a person feels sad, so it can be difficult to know when there is a problem. But if you think your child is depressed, it’s important to seek help as early as possible. Common signs of depression in children include:

  • sadness, or low mood lasting a long time
  • being irritable or grumpy
  • they’re always tired
  • having trouble sleeping
  • isolating themselves from friends and family
  • low confidence
  • talking about feeling worthless or guilty

Some children may also show physical symptoms, such as feeling sick or headaches.

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