Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The New York Times defines obsessive-compulsive disorder as “an anxiety disorder in which people have thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).”
Some examples of OCD are excessive hand-washing to ward off infection or repeatedly checking the locks on the door to ensure that they are secured. Children with OCD often recognize that their behavior is excessive, but cannot stop themselves from their compulsive actions.
The Link Between Anxiety and Depression
There is a connection between childhood anxiety and teenage depression. Many doctors say that prior to puberty, the equivalent of depression in children is anxiety. The same biochemical issues that children who experience childhood depression deal with are mostly like to lead to depression once they enter puberty.
As a matter of fact, children who have anxiety are more likely to have teen depression. About half of depressed teenagers had a childhood anxiety disorder and of those teens who suffer from anxiety disorders and depression, 85% of them had their anxiety disorder first.
Parents: Be Part of the Solution
Marianna Csoti, in her book, School Phobia, Panic Attacks, and Anxiety in Children, outlines the different ways that parents can help their children overcome anxiety:
- Do not speak about the anxiety in front of your children. Parents should avoid discussing their child’s worries in front of him. Hearing about his own problems can often cause more anxiety and result in his seeing the problems as larger than they are.
- Do not introduce your own worries. Parents should try to remove any unnecessary pressure from the child, as he needs to be protected from stress.
- Reassure your child. Your child should be told that his fears will not always be with him and that he will eventually feel better.
- Listen to your child’s anxieties. Allow your child to express his fears even if they seem silly to you. This does not mean that you have to “give in” to his every whim; rather you are showing him that you are aware of his suffering.
- Create a gentle start to the day. If your child struggles with going to school, wake him early in a gentle manner (with music or cuddles) allowing him time to adjust to the reality of going to school.
- Stick to regular routines. Even though the summers and vacations have their own schedules, sticking to the same bedtime and morning wake-up throughout the summer and school year will allow your child to feel more secure.
· Seek a professional opinion. Anxiety is a serious issue that cannot always be solved by a caring and capable parent. If you feel that your child’s anxiety is affecting you and your family, seek a professional opinion.