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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Eight Year Old Boy Stressing but No Major Changes

04/08/2008

Question:

My 8 yr old son has always been easily stressed. Lately, his 3rd grade teacher has noticed he is not following directions and often does the wrong work (either too much or too little). My son is now worried that he can`t hear properly but his hearing is fine. We have a pedi. appt next week but I wanted to ask you, too. I have suffered from severe anxiety since I was 5 yrs old(since I can remember) but was never diagnosed until I was 35! My son doesn`t know about it - don`t want to worry him. He feels like he is going crazy and has had some anxiety attack symptoms such as shortness of breath and tightness in his chest. What can I do to help him???

Answer:

Anxiety is a good thing generally as it keeps us on our toes. Too much anxiety can lead to mental mistakes and errors, difficulty paying attention or following directions. It is a good thing to seek an evaluation from your pediatrician but from what you describe your child may have an abnormally heightened fear response and an anxiety attack as you put it probably indicates that further evaluation by a mental health professional is necessary.

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati