Child psychiatrist shares 4 common signs child, teen may be struggling with anxiety

The Center for Family Psychiatry's Dr. Suvrat Bhargave says anxiety is common in children and teenagers.

He says there are usually four main ways anxiety manifests itself in children.

The first is through doubt.

"Doubt is really second guessing," Bhargave says.  "So, the child might second guess anything from his ability to do what you're asking him to do, or it might be doubt about the environment, are we going to be safe, is everything going to be all right? Or, it might be doubt about fitting in. So how many likes does a person get on social media? All of those things are making you doubt yourself and your ability to do things in your environment."

Another sign is physical complaints.

Dr. Bhargave says children and adults with anxiety may experience headaches, fatigue and stomach upset.

"That's really your body's way of trying to get you to identify that you're feeling anxious and trying to get you to express it," he says.  "So, if you start to notice a pattern with it again, if it's something that you only have when you're about to leave to go to school, that's your body's way of trying to say you're feeling anxiety. Let's figure this out. Let's talk it through."

Kids with anxiety often struggle with change.

"Anxious children like routine, and they like predictability," Dr. Bhargave explains.  "It's almost like a safety net. So there's even a small changes like removing the safety net. And, now, suddenly, all the doubts and the what-if's creep up again."

All of that can lead to the final way kids deal with anxiety: avoiding stressful situations.

"Not wanting to go to school, not wanting to be in a new situation; if you change the routine, then suddenly they become very anxious," he says.  "It's because something will happen that they can't predict."

Dr. Bhargave says some level of anxiety is appropriate for children.

"But if you're noticing that the level of anxiety is intense, that it's happening often, and that when your child gets anxious, it's hard for them to be able to be consoled, and it's going on and on and on, those are signs that your child needs help," Bhargave says.

If you sense your child is struggling with anxiety, talk to your child's pediatrician or a mental health provider about your options.