What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is one of the most prevalent problems of childhood and adolescence. Up to 10% of children experience severe anxiety or fears that interfere with their life or relationships with others. Common effects of severe anxiety or fears include interference with family relationships, school performance and friendships as well as significant personal distress.

It is not always obvious when a child's difficulties are a result of extreme anxiety or fear. Avoidance of the anxiety or fear inducing events or objects is the most common outward sign that there may be a problem. How do you know whether a child is suffering from severe anxiety or fear? For common signs that a child is suffering from severe anxiety or fears, please see:

Does my child need help?

Because avoidance is generally not as noticeable as the the behavior of children who act out, most children with severe anxiety or fear do not receive treatment and continue to suffer in silence.


Some parents believe that children will eventually outgrow their problems with severe anxiety. Science shows us that this clearly is not the case. In fact, children whose anxiety problems go untreated are more likely to continue to have severe anxiety problems well into adulthood. Further, left untreated, these children are also at greater risk for additional emotional and behavioral problems such as depression and substance abuse.

Types of Fear and Anxiety

There are are many different types of fear and anxiety problems. The most common types of fears and anxiety problems exhibited by children and adolescents include: