Excessive fear, nervousness or shyness

Pediatric anxiety is a condition that causes intense feelings that are often overwhelming, frightening and difficult to control. To be considered an anxiety disorder, these issues must be persistent, cause distress, impairment  and interfere with your ability to function in the important areas of your child's life.

Types of pediatric anxiety include:

  • Separation anxiety – extreme distress when separated from your parent(s) or caretaker
  • Social phobia – fear of what others will say or think
  • Selective mutism – refusal to talk
  • Specific phobia – fear of a particular thing like the dark, loud noises or animals

Pediatric anxiety disorders stem from a wide range of causes, including family history, brain chemistry and learned behaviors.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Pediatric anxiety may appear as an emotion or behavior. The condition is more common in children who have long-term chronic illness like diabetes or asthma.

Symptoms include:

  • Extreme separation anxiety
  • Fear of going to school
  • Excessive worry about the future
  • Panic attacks
  • Painful shyness
  • Irritability
  • Poor attention span
  • Physical complaints like headache or stomachache
  • The constant need for reassurance

Diagnosis of pediatric anxiety is best made by a trained mental health professional who can determine the specifics of your condition and develop a personalized treatment plan to address your individual needs.

Why Choose Penn State Health Children’s Hospital for Care

Compassionate, Innovative Treatment

The specialists at Penn State Health Children's Hospital offer innovative treatment options that can help you manage your anxiety and its impact on your life.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on changing the thoughts and behaviors that lead to anxiety.
  • There are different types of medications used to treat anxiety disorders.
  • Your child may benefit from a combination of both treatments.

Support Groups

Support groups provide children and their families an opportunity to connect with others in similar situations. Learn more about the support groups offered at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

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