Statistics on Anxiety Disorders in Children and Who's at Risk
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Children and adolescents can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after they experience an extremely stressful event. Such events may include:
- Experiencing physical or sexual abuse
- Being a victim of or witnessing violence
- Living through a disaster, such as a bombing or hurricane.
Young people with post-traumatic stress disorder experience the event over and over through strong memories, flashbacks, or other kinds of troublesome thoughts. As a result, they may try to avoid anything associated with the trauma. They may also overreact when startled or have difficulty sleeping.
In children, anxiety disorders are among the most common mental, emotional, and behavioral problems. About 13 of every 100 children and adolescents ages 9 to 17 experience some kind of anxiety disorder. Girls are affected by these disorders more than boys. About half of children and adolescents with anxiety disorders have a second anxiety disorder or other mental or behavioral disorder, such as depression. In addition, anxiety disorders may coexist with physical health conditions requiring treatment.
Researchers have found that the basic temperament of young people may play a role in some childhood and adolescent anxiety disorders. For example, some children tend to be quite shy and restrained in unfamiliar situations, a possible sign that they are at risk for developing an anxiety disorder. Research in this area is complex, however, because children's fears often change as they age.
Researchers also suggest watching for signs of anxiety disorders when children are between the ages of six and eight. During this time, children generally grow less afraid of the dark and imaginary creatures, and become more anxious about school performance and social relationships. An excessive amount of anxiety in children this age may be a warning sign of the development of anxiety disorders later in life.
Studies suggest that children or adolescents are more likely to have an anxiety disorder if they have a parent with one. However, the studies do not prove whether the disorders are caused by biology, environment, or both. More data is needed to clarify whether anxiety disorders can be inherited.