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Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

We all worry. It's a normal part of life. But when your child has generalized anxiety disorder, he or she worries about lots of things. Your child has a hard time not worrying. This worry or anxiety interferes with your child's relationships, school, and life.

Your child may worry most days about things like school or friends. That may make your child feel tired, tense, or cranky. It can make it hard to think. It may get in the way of healthy sleep. Your child also may have stomach aches or headaches.

Counselling and medicine can both work to treat anxiety. They are often used together with lifestyle changes. Treatment can include a type of counselling called cognitive-behavioural therapy, or CBT. It can help your child learn to notice and replace thoughts that make your child worry. You also may have family counselling. It can help family members learn how to support your child.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Encourage your child to be active for at least an hour each day. Your child may like to take a walk with you, ride a bike, or play sports.
  • Help your child learn relaxation techniques. Deep breathing can help.
  • Help your child get enough sleep.
    • Set up a bedtime routine to help your child get ready for bed.
    • Have your child go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
  • Let your child talk about his or her fears. Be understanding when your child makes a mistake. This can help build trust.
  • Give your child a chance to do something on their own, such as making crafts. That can help your child feel confident.
  • Find a counsellor who uses CBT.
  • Work with your child's teachers and school counsellor to help create support for your child at school.
  • Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child feels that he or she can't stop from hurting himself or herself or someone else. Keep the number for a suicide crisis centre on or near your phone. To find a suicide prevention crisis centre in your province, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention webpage at http://suicideprevention.ca/need-help. If your child talks about suicide or feeling hopeless, get help right away.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new anxiety or anxiety that gets worse.
  • Your child has been feeling sad, depressed, or hopeless or has lost interest in things that your child usually enjoys.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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