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Is your child suffering from anxiety or stress? The 4 domains to identify symptoms

Stress and anxiety symptoms blog header. Hannes Wessels Educational Psychologist

 Stress or anxiety, is it always bad?

Stress and anxiety is a phenomenon we are faced with on a daily basis. It is a survival mechanism which has made as survive as a human species and it is a normal response to an anticipated future threat. However, when anxiety is left unidentified and not processed at can lead to many difficulties. Herewith is a quick list of possible signs and symptoms

Anxiety can manifest in 4 different domains:

1. Thoughts as stress symptoms:

  • “I can’t handle this”
  • Ruminating about certain situations
  • Worries about being scrutinised in social situations.
  • Worries about being embarrassed, humiliated, rejected or offending others.
  • Excessive worry about losing important people in his/her life.
  •  Being preoccupied with fearful thoughts.

2. Feelings (emotions) as stress symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Sadness
  • Irritation
  • Tiredness
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigued

3. Physiological responses as stress symptoms:

  • Stomach pain
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Headaches
  • Spasms in the neck or shoulders
  • Muscle aches

4. Behaviours as stress symptoms:

  • Avoidance
  • Emotional outbursts or meltdowns before school about clothing, shoes, hair or a sporting activity
  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Unnecessary perfectionism
  • Inattention poor focus
  • Excessive crying
  • Tantrums
  • Difficulty slowing down before bed time
  • Sleeping difficulties (falling asleep, staying asleep)
  • Selective mutism during situations expected to speak e.g. school speeches or classroom discussions.
  • Surges of intense fear and physical discomfort (panic attacks)

If these signs and symptoms have persisted for more than 3 months and you feel that it is having an impact on your child or adolescent’s school achievement it is important to consult a psychologist.

It is important to note that although your child might have a lot of these symptoms they do not necessarily have an anxiety disorder but learning to cope with his/her anxiety can be very beneficial.

Hannes Wessels
Hannes WesselsEducational Psychologist
Hannes Wessels is an educational psychologist based in Parkhurst and in Centurion. He has a special interest in cognitive behavioural therapy, career counselling and anxiety treatment. The psychological uses and impact of social media on people is also a field that intrigues him greatly. Therefore, he does various workshops related to social media use for parents, schools and health professionals.

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