Health Matters: Treating Children who Struggle with Anxiety

Last week we shared tips on how to identify if your child may have an anxiety disorder.

It’s just as important to take care of your mental health as it is your physical.

If your child ignores their anxiety disorder, psychologists say it won’t go away on its own.

If anxiety is interrupting your child’s day to day life, Dr. Boerger Wilder says it’s time to see a professional.

“Mental health I think is on the same continuum as physical health. It’s something that’s happening and we just need to get some help about it,” says Dr. Jodi Boerger Wilder, a psychologist with Essentia Health. 

The child psychologist says almost every adolescent she treats talks about having anxiety when they were younger.

“Like anything, if we kind of ignore it and decide we’re not going to take care of this, it’s going to get worse. And a lot of times people with anxiety also suffer from depression,” says Dr. Boeger Wilder.

Talking about anxiety can be scary for a child, but seeing a professional doesn’t have to be.

“It’s a really uncomfortable feeling to be anxious, so most kids come in wanting to make it go away or get treatment for it,” says Dr. Boeger Wilder.

It starts with individual therapy with a psychologist to look for what’s triggering that uneasy feeling.

“Can they identify is it a stomach ache, or is it a headache or is they’re just starting to shake. Can they identify that physical symptom?” Dr. Boeger Wilder says.

The goal is to separate the feeling and the thought.

“We really encourage the child a little bit at a time, gradually exposure it’s called. We kind of introduce this idea of putting that child back in charge of their worry.”

Dr.Boerger Wilder says there’s no harm in just making an appointment.

The psychologist can then refer your child to see a psychiatrist, if needed.

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