The most common issues I help treat are anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders involve intense fears that make it difficult for a child to fulfill their daily responsibilities. Interestingly, because young children often lack a full understanding of their emotions, they may have an anxiety disorder but not report feeling anxious. Instead, it is quite common for anxiety to manifest as bodily complaints. For instance, a young boy may say that he has no fear about going to school, but he complains of an awful "tummy ache" each morning when it comes time for school. Similar issues often arise at bed time for children with fears of the dark.
Common anxieties in early childhood include a fear of the dark, of separation from one or both parents, of new people, and of animals. In middle or later childhood, anxieties often center around social situations, or fear of illness and death.
Although it may appear quite different from a fear of specific objects or situations, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is another type of anxiety disorder that shares many underlying features with the issues described above.
OCD often manifests in children as rigid adherence to certain rituals. For instance, they may refuse to get dressed for school if you aren't standing in a specific spot in the room while they get ready. OCD can also appear as compulsive habits, such as counting or touching objects in a special way. Behaviors are thought to be compulsive when the child reports that they have to complete a task a certain way, and they become upset if they can't do it that way or insist on doing certain tasks again. For instance, they may have to wash their hands several times if it wasn't done "the right way" the first time.
The material contained in this website is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health condition. It is not a substitute for psychological treatment provided by a licensed mental health provider. Nothing in this website should be construed as establishing a client-psychotherapist relationship between you and the OCD & Anxiety Center of Cleveland.