Parents recognize that some children are easily frightened from birth on and cry a great deal, while others seem more resilient by temperament (they seldom cry, hardly ever get upset, and are less easily frightened). Some children love to explore the world around them. Others are cautious and don’t tolerate change well. Children who are inhibited are more likely to have a parent with social anxiety disorder. An anxious person is more likely to have a parent or sibling who suffers from depression. Many people with social anxiety disorder report having one or both parents who have a substance abuse problem such as drinking or come from a family in which:
there is substantial conflict between the adults,
parents are overly critical of the children (where things are never good enough), and
there is excessive concern about what other people think.
National surveys find that about five percent of children and adolescents suffer from a social anxiety disorder. Children with an anxiety problem seldom report that they are feeling anxious. Instead, they report the presence of physical symptoms, which include headaches, stomach aches, nausea, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, blushing, dizziness, and shortness of breath. They try to avoid the following situations – speaking in class, taking tests, reading aloud, writing on the board, inviting friends over to play, eating in front of others, going to parties, and playing sports. Children and adolescents with social anxiety disorder may go on to develop other related problems, such as loneliness, depression, and low self-esteem. Although some children will overcome their shyness in time, as interactions with others cause their fears to dissipate, others will experience a worsening of symptoms. If a child shows symptoms by the age of six that have not improved by the age of ten, it is probably time to seek a professional intervention.
Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT
San Diego Couples and Family Therapy provides counseling in the convenient area of Sorrento Valley Road.
We also serve the surrounding areas of La Jolla, UTC San Diego, Del Mar, University City, Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Poway and Escondido.