Anxiety in Children


anxiety, anticipatory tension or vague dread persisting in the absence of a specific threat. In contrast to fear, which is a realistic reaction to actual danger, anxiety is generally related to an unconscious threat. Physiological symptoms of anxiety include increases in pulse rate and blood pressure, accelerated breathing rates, perspiration, muscular tension, dryness of the mouth, and diarrhea. Freud postulated that anxiety was a result of repressed, pent-up sexual energy, but later came to view it as a danger signal alerting the ego to excessive stimulation and causing repression. Anxiety disorders include observable, overt anxiety, as well as phobias and other conditions where a defense mechanism has been set up to disguise the anxiety from both the sufferer and the observer. In generalized anxiety, the individual experiences long-term anxiety with no explanation for its cause; such a condition may be called free-floating, since it is not linked to a specific stimulus. Panic disorder involves sudden anxiety attacks which are manifested in heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or fainting. The individual with a phobic disorder can identify the stimulus that causes anxiety: such stimuli as enclosed space, heights, and crowds become imbued with greatly exaggerated anxiety and are carefully avoided by the phobic individual. Obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) are characterized by obsessions (mental quandries) and compulsions (physical actions) that engage the individual excessively. Extreme anxiety may be experienced if the person does not carry out the compulsion or attempts to ignore the obsession. Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when an individual has recurrent dreams, flashbacks, or panic attacks after a particularly traumatic experience.

See D. F. Klein, Anxiety (1987); D. H. Barlow, Anxiety and Its Disorders (1988); S. J. Rachman, Fear and Courage (1990).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Anxiety in Children: Selected full-text books and articles

Child Anxiety Disorders: A Guide to Research and Treatment, 2nd Edition By Deborah C. Beidel; Candice A. Alfano Routledge, 2011 (2nd edition)
Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A Psychopharmacological Approach By David Nutt; Caroline Bell; Christine Masterson; Clare Short Martin Dunitz, 2001
Handbook of Clinical Child Psychology By C. Eugene Walker; Michael C. Roberts John Wiley & Sons, 2001 (3rd edition)
Librarian's tip: Chap. 15 "Fear and Anxiety in Children"
Child Psychopathology By Eric J. Mash; Russell A. Barkley Guilford Press, 2003 (2nd edition)
Librarian's tip: Chap. Six "Childhood Anxiety Disorders"
Advanced Abnormal Child Psychology By Michel Hersen; Robert T. Ammerman Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000 (2nd edition)
Librarian's tip: Chap. 14 "Anxiety Disorders"
Psychopathology: Foundations for a Contemporary Understanding By James E. Maddux; Barbara A. Winstead Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005
Librarian's tip: Chap. 7 "Anxiety Disorders"
Handbook of Infant, Toddler, and Preschool Mental Health Assessment By Rebecca DelCarmen-Wiggins; Alice Carter Oxford University Press, 2004
Librarian's tip: Chap. 18 "Anxiety Disorders"
Promoting Emotional Well-Being of Children and Adolescents and Preventing Their Mental Ill Health: A Handbook By Kedar Nath Dwivedi; Peter Brinley Harper Jessica Kingsley, 2004
Librarian's tip: Chap. 9 "Prevention of Depression and Anxiety in Children and Adolescents"
Child Development and Behavioral Pediatrics By Janice L. Genevro; Marc H. Bornstein Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. 5 "Anxiety in Children during the Perioperative Period"
Treating Anxiety Disorders in a School Setting By McLoone, Jordana; Hudson, Jennifer L.; Rapee, Ronald M Education & Treatment of Children, Vol. 29, No. 2, May 2006
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