Anxiety disorders ESSAY


Anxiety disorders are defined as the recurring physiological and emotional arousal that is a response to disproportionate perceptions of perceived danger or threat by an individual (Sadock, 2014). are prevalent in children and adolescents and affect about 15-20% of youth. Generally speaking, the amygdala tends to be overreactive in adolescents who experience anxiety (Wehry et al, 2015). In children and adolescents, common anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and selective mutism. As such, anxiety disorders are classified by how the individual experiences the anxiety, the triggering situation, and the course it typically follows causing significant functional impairment in the child or adolescent (Sadock, 2014).

 Generalized anxiety disorder is defined as excessive anxiety and worries occurring for at least 6 months, the worry is difficult to control, and the anxiety is associated with 3 or more of the following symptoms: restlessness, easily tiredness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance. This anxiety causes significant distress or impairment (APA, 2013). Social anxiety is a disorder that is characterized by a pronounced and persistent fear of being embarrassed, humiliated, or scrutinized by other individuals. The age of onset for the emergence of this disorder is during adolescents that are typically a the developmentally sensitive period when peer groups gain increasing importance (Leigh & Clark, 2018). Separation anxiety disorder is characterized by the emergence of excessive anxiety or fear relating to the separation from a prominent figure such as a parent or caregiver that is beyond the expected developmental expectation for the child or adolescent (Sadock, 2014).

Selective mutism is a form of anxiety disorder that causes difficulties in communicating in children. These difficulties typically occur in social situations such as school. Typically, in selective mutism, the child is able to speak normally in situations where they are comfortable, such as being home with family but in uncomfortable or new situations, the child has a difficult time speaking and communicating (Kovac, & Furr, 2019). These symptoms typically being during the ages of 2-5 and generally begin when the child enters school (Lang et al., 2015). Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents have overlapping symptoms as they are highly comorbid. As such, in the evaluation, differential diagnosis process, and treatment strategies, they are commonly considered coinciding disorders (Sadock, 2014).


American Psychological Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 5th edition: Dsm-5 (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing.

Kovac, L. M., & Furr, J. M. (2018). What teachers should know about selective mutism in early . Early Childhood Education Journal, 47(1), 107–114.

Lang, C., Nir, Z., Gothelf, A., Domachevsky, S., Ginton, L., Kushnir, J., & Gothelf, D. (2015). The outcome of children with selective mutism following cognitive behavioral intervention: A follow-up study. European Journal of Pediatrics, 175(4), 481–487.

Leigh, E., & Clark, D. M. (2018). Understanding social anxiety disorder in adolescents and improving treatment outcomes: Applying the cognitive model of clark and wells (1995). Clinical Child and Family Review, 21(3), 388–414.

Sadock, B. J., Sadock, V. A., & Pedro, R. M. (2014). Kaplan and Sadock’s synopsis of psychiatry: Behavioral sciences/clinical psychiatry (11th ed.). Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. Wehry, A. M., Beesdo-Baum, K., Hennelly, M. M., Connolly, S. D., & Strawn, J. R. (2015). Assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Current Psychiatry Reports, 17(7).