A child experiencing back to school anxiety.
Healthy Living

Your Child and Back to School Anxiety: What’s Normal?

Sep 3 2021

The summer months are ending, and back to school season is in full swing!

It is natural for your child to experience a little anxiety related to schooling and education. However, there are definitely signs to be aware of when things have progressed beyond normal.

For example, if you notice that your child is having extreme amounts of worry, difficulty calming down when thinking about school-related activities, inability to separate from you or unexplained physical ailments, they may be suffering from significant anxiety. When left untreated and unmanaged, anxiety can cause poor academic performance and an inability to thrive socially.

“Daily routines and structure are always vital in promoting a smooth transition back to school,” Lewis Spirtos, MD, a ABPN board-certified psychiatrist at Mercy Health – Youngstown shares. “Additionally, when it comes to combatting anxiety, self-care in terms of adequate sleep, exercise and proper nutrition is also invaluable.”

If your child’s symptoms of anxiety continue to progress and are significantly inhibiting, it may be time to look at more clinical options.

“Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most widely recognized form of psychotherapy in treating anxiety,” Dr. Spirtos says. “Oftentimes, this alone can be effective. However, there is also an array of anti-anxiety medications that can be helpful when appropriately prescribed.”

Dealing with your child’s anxiety right away is important, because when left untreated it can cause or accelerate other emotional problems.

“Depression and anxiety can certainly precipitate each other, and these conditions manifest differently in different people,” Dr. Spirtos shares. “If someone is experiencing ongoing, untreated and unmanageable anxiety, this can certainly contribute to feelings of depression. In some instances, it can even lead to self-medication with illicit substances to try and ease the anxiety.”

When dealing with your child and a mental health-related illness like anxiety, it is imperative to remember that there are many resources available to help. You aren’t in this alone. Anxiety can be managed with the help of counseling, structure and medications. With proper treatment, it is entirely possible to return your child’s anxiety back to a normal level.

Do not hesitate to reach out to those around you. Asking for help can make a world of difference.

Learn about the integrated behavioral health and mental health services we offer at Mercy Health.

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