What is Anxiety?

Anxiety affects around one quarter of children with ADHD.  The anxiety manifests as excessive worry, tension or uneasiness even when there is nothing to fear.  Their feelings are more frequent and excessive in comparison to normal fears and so can affect their thinking and behavior. 

Generalised anxiety typically emerges when children reach school age. 

Children with general anxiety might:

  • worry about lots of things e.g. health, school, money, safety, world events
  • feel the need to be perfectionists
  • be scared of asking or answering questions in class
  • find it hard to perform in tests
  • be afraid of new or unfamiliar situations
  • seek constant reassurance
  • complain about feeling sick when worried

General anxiety can easily go unnoticed as children may be working very hard to cover it up.   However, they often ask frequent questions in new situations such as ‘What’s going to happen?’ or ‘What if … ?’ 

Some physical signs to watch out for could include:

  • daydreaming
  • stomach aches
  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • inattention

Children might also find it difficult to fall asleep at night due to excessive worrying about the events of the next day.

Of course it is common for there to be times when children worry a lot but you know your child best and if you feel their worrying is affecting their enjoyment of life or if the worrying continues for longer than six months it is worth seeking professional help.

You can seek help from:

  • School counselor
  • GP or paediatrician (who might refer you to a child psychologist)
  • local children's health or community health centre
  • specialist anxiety clinic

Because mental health issues are seen so often in association with ADHD, children with ADHD should be checked for anxiety and depression. 

Useful Websites:

http://mindd.org/conditions/anxiety/

http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/generalised_anxiety.html