As a parent, it is difficult to watch your child struggle with anxiety at home or in school. As they get older, fear and worry can develop into full-blown panic attacks that can be hard for even the most confident children to manage. The next time you notice your child starting to feel anxious about something, consider these tips, including chiropractic care, as options for reducing their anxiety levels.
Identify Your Child’s Anxiety Symptoms
You must understand the symptoms of anxiety in children. While some kids are more outwardly emotional, others may try to mask their anxiety with bad behavior. This can make it hard to tell what’s going on in your child’s mind.
Many children act out when they are feeling anxious or afraid. Identifying the signs of anxiety and depression will allow you to figure out how best to help them feel better, deal with their emotions and ease anxiety symptoms. Some common stressors for parents and teachers to look out for might include changes in eating habits, sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating at school or home, acting up in class or with other students/teachers/friends and family members.
Know the Difference Between Anxiety and Stress
While the two mental health terms may seem synonymous, the two terms are different from one another in that stress can be caused by any number of things going on in your external environment or even within yourself.
Stress is sometimes a good thing. “Eustress” is the type of stress we feel when we are excited. Think of those moments when your heart begins to race, and you feel the adrenaline pumping through your body. Examples of eustress for a child may include riding a roller coaster, riding a bicycle for the first time, or competing in an important sporting event. When stress becomes chronic is when it can become problematic. Then you may begin to see a change in your child’s mood or notice them feeling more worried about normal things. At this point, you may want to talk with your child or reach out for professional help.
Anxiety, however, usually stems directly from your child’s specific fears or worries. For example, returning to school after summer break or some other event they have been anticipating with nerves. It’s important not to underestimate how powerful those feelings of worry can be. This extreme fear can make a child feel overwhelmed, scared, have temporary depression, or even a panic attack. When parents can recognize what causes a child significant amounts of anxiety, they can help identify triggers and treat anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are quite common among children; the CDC states that the number of kids diagnosed with anxiety has increased by approximately 65% since 2003. If your child feels like they have to keep their worries and fears a secret, it can feel very lonely for them. Your child needs to know they are not alone and that anxiety is a part of life for many people.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are five main types of anxiety disorders. Children develop anxiety over time and recognizing the changes that are happening can help your child relieve anxiety and find a mental health professional to find the proper diagnosis and help.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD causes chronic tension and worries even when there’s little or nothing to provoke it. Individuals with GAD can be anxious about many things, often leading to several symptoms at one time that can make the anxiety worse.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD causes sufferers to have unwanted thoughts and/or repetitive behaviors. They may perform “rituals” with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Unfortunately, these rituals provide only temporary relief. Children experiencing anxiety may feel they need to organize their toys a certain way or put their clothes in the same manner every day.
Panic disorder is characterized by sudden and repeated episodes of intense fear. It is accompanied by physical symptoms, including chest pain, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, or dizziness. Many of these symptoms occur at the same time.
Older children may experience negative thoughts and fear when it comes to life situations. The death of a family member or sudden changes in their home situation that may cause them to feel worried. This could lead to extreme anxiety.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD occurs in individuals when an extremely traumatic event occurs in their life. People with PTSD are more likely to worsen after being exposed to stimuli that remind them of the initial trauma. For example, a child who has witnessed gun violence may feel triggered by sudden loud noises like fireworks. Many children and adults who are diagnosed with PTSD also suffer from anxiety and depression as a result.
Social anxiety is an overwhelming fear of being in social situations. Those with the condition may be afraid of speaking up or talking in public, among other things. In severe cases, it can interfere with career choices and everyday activities like attending school or finding the courage to talk to a new friend. Children who suffer from social anxiety disorder may feel that they lack the social support to make new friends or engage in new activities.
Try an Alternative to Medication: Visiting a Chiropractor May Relieve Symptoms
Anxiety is often treated with medication, but this approach has several side effects that may not be worth the risk for your child. Chiropractic care can offer children a better solution to calm anxiety and panic attacks by addressing imbalances in their bodies before problems get worse. When the spine is properly aligned, the neurological pieces are connected, and the body has the power to function at its highest potential.
The spinal adjustment you receive during chiropractic sessions helps relieve tension throughout the entire body and calm the nervous system. This means that overall feelings of anxiety may quickly dissipate and leave your child feeling refreshed.
Not all chiropractors are the same! It is important to find someone like Dr. Eric of ADIO Chiropractic (Middleton, WI) who specializes in pediatric care.
Create a Plan With Your Child’s Chiropractor & Doctor
Your chiropractor can help by creating a personalized plan to manage anxiety. The goal of chiropractic care in children is to allow the body to naturally reduce anxiety symptoms and teach children ways of managing stressors in their lives.
Working with your child’s doctor, chiropractor, and other support professionals like counselors or therapists is important. Together you can help come up with a care plan for your child’s anxiety and/or depression. This plan may include a variety of techniques to relieve stress, such as:
- chiropractic care
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- deep breathing (when you breathe deeply and exhale slowly, it creates a calming effect that lowers your heart rate and reduces the body’s physical response to stressors)
- improved diet recommendations like adding more whole grains and less processed foods
- creating a consistent sleep routine
ADIO Chiropractic in Middleton, WI
Dr. Eric of ADIO Chiropractic specializes in pediatric care. He understands how powerful our bodies and minds are when everything is properly aligned and, therefore, is passionate about providing quality chiropractic care. He has worked with people of all ages to successfully meet their specific needs and health goals.
Chiropractic care may help improve your child’s overall well-being, lower anxiety, and reduce anxious feelings. Find out if chiropractic care may be a good fit for your child, by scheduling an appointment online or calling us at (608) 824-0950.