7 Signs You Probably Had Anxiety as a Child

Anxiety often manifests in various ways and can affect everyone differently. Nevertheless, a few common denominators that people with anxiety may share include: fear of public speaking, excessive worry, racing heartbeat, irritability and racing thoughts (just to name a few). For many people who experience anxiety, they might go years before being clinically diagnosed and starting treatment. One large reason might be because often times children and teenagers who are anxious are dismissed as being “dramatic,” “overly sensitive” and “emotional,” or “just plain lazy” — which is not the case.

I’ve struggled with both generalized anxiety and social anxiety since I was 7 years old. Take a look at these various instances I personally experienced throughout my youth and see if you can relate:

1. I was absolutely mortified whenever I had to interact with people I didn’t know. My parents always thought that I was just a shy, awkward kid that had trouble making friends. What they failed to realize was that this “shyness” was always at 20 on a scale of 1 to 10.

2. I was absolutely mortified whenever I had to interact with people I did know. It didn’t matter if it was a distant uncle or my favorite cousin.

3. I was always self-conscious about my appearance, or coming across as foolish. Even as a young child, my brain was always riddled with thoughts of how others perceived me, which would undoubtedly stress me out and ramp up my anxiety.

4. I would always plan out a conversation before it actually happened. I still have trouble with this to this day. This goes back to my brain always being on the defense of having to appear a certain way — having to appear “normal.”

5. I choose to stay indoors and play alone, or with my many imaginary friends. Again, a lot of the time, having to be around others and interact was draining for me. It was much easier and less stressful to play quietly by myself and use my imagination.

6. I always procrastinated with things I needed to get done. Yet another problem I still have issues with as an adult — chores, homework, calling a friend back, you name it.

7. I was always viewed as a “drama queen.” This one used to really upset me! My entire life I was perceived as a “drama queen” by family and friends, but unbeknownst to them, I wasn’t being dramatic: I was just anxious and didn’t know how to express it.

Anxiety, for me, is like a little monster that resides in your brain, constantly waiting to remind you of how much of a failure you are; so as a defense you think of all the possible scenarios that could happen and you immediately try to do damage control. Early recognition of anxiety disorders is necessary in order to seek and obtain proper care. Talk to your kids about their feelings and emotions, and really try to place yourself if their situation. Don’t simply dismiss their stress as childhood angst. Growing up and navigating through life is though! Be there and be supportive.

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Thinkstock photo via AkillinaWinter

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