When Should I Seek Treatment For Anxiety?

It’s not always easy to determine when treatment is indicated for you or your child.  Anxiety symptoms can be unbearable and drive people to treatment for relief.  

Reasons Adults Seek Help

Common reasons adults seek therapy are chronic worry, sleep disturbance, depressed mood, and physical complaints such as headaches and  stomach aches/digestive issues.  Anxiety can interfere with one’s ability to sustain focus and there may be increasing episodes of forgetfulness which can cause problems in school or one’s job.  I’ve evaluated many adults for suspected ADHD when the true issue was anxiety.  

Reasons Parents Seek Help for Their Children

For children, the symptoms may be less obvious.  I’ve evaluated many children with diagnosable anxiety disorders, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which were not known to their parents.  Anxiety, particularly the rituals present for children with OCD, can be a source of shame.  Despite the stress they experience, they may not talk about it.  For this reason, children may not receive the treatment they need, despite the intention of loving, well meaning parents.  On the other hand, some children exhibit obvious symptoms that bring them to treatment.  This may include fears of being alone (sleeping with parents), avoidance of social situations, extreme shyness, test-taking anxiety, perfectionism, etc.  Irritability is commonly seen in children when their anxiety is overwhelming, and this change in mood is another reason parents often seek consultation.  

The good news is that treatment for anxiety is effective when provided by an experienced therapist. Even young children can benefit from therapy and gain confidence in their ability to tolerate anxiety and learn strategies for coping.