What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal emotion that is critical for our survival and functioning. It can help us avoid potentially dangerous situations and prepare for challenges. Stressful life events, such as taking a test, starting a new school, or speaking in front of a group, can trigger normal forms of childhood anxiety that help prepare a child for the challenge ahead. That said, sometimes, there can be problems in expressing emotions that can negatively affect day-to-day living. Fear, anxiety, sadness, and even our capacity to enjoy ourselves can be a problem if these emotions become extreme and impair one’s capacity to function.
How common are anxiety disorders, and who is affected?
Anxiety disorders are common in children and adolescents and typically begin during childhood and adolescence. In fact, some suggest that anxiety disorders may affect 1 in 8 children. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 25.1% of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 years will experience an anxiety disorder, and 5.9% will experience a severe anxiety disorder. Boys and girls are equally affected in childhood, and after puberty, girls appear to be more commonly affected than boys. Both genetics and the environment play a role in anxiety disorders.