Current epidemiological data suggest anxiety disorders are the most prevalent type of childhood psychological disorders. Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD is described by excessive worrying about a variety of events, including those in the past, present, and future. Children with this disorder worry excessively about a number of issues, including past conversations or actions, upcoming events, school, family health, their own health, competence in sports or academics, and world events. Typically, children experiencing such excessive worry find it difficult to control the amount of time that they worry, and the worrying interferes in their daily life. Sometimes children don’t realize their anxiety is excessive considering the situation. Worries, doubts, and fears are a normal part of life. It’s natural to be anxious about your upcoming test or to worry about future plans after graduating from high school.
The difference between “normal” worrying and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is that the worrying involved in GAD is the student can have thoughts that are excessive, persistent or debilitating. For most children, anxiety is a common and can be a functional, everyday part of life. But for some children in our schools anxiety may be intense and cause significant disruptions in normal social and academic development (Storch 2005).
The difference between normal age appropriate worry and Generalized Anxiety Disorder lies in the symptoms and behavior of the child. According to the Diagnostic Statistic Manual (DSM-IV) Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized as follows:
A. Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more-days-than-not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance).
B. The person finds it difficult to control the worry.
C. The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms present for more-days-than-not for the past 6 months).
Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
Being easily fatigued
Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless
D. The focus of the anxiety and worry is not confined to features of other Axis I disorder (such as social phobia, OCD, PTSD etc.)
E. The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
F. The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism), and does not occur exclusively...