Anxiety Disorders Guide
Temporary fear and worry are normal parts of life, especially for children as they develop and go through changes. For some children, though, those feelings do not go away and can get worse over time. Some children are just naturally more anxious. Others may develop an anxiety disorder after a traumatic event or because of another health condition. If feelings of fear or worry affect your child’s behavior and get in the way of school, play and other everyday activities, they may have an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders:
- Anger or irritability
- Trouble sleeping
- Being clingy or shy
- Negative thoughts
- Constant worrying
- Crying often
- Eating too much or too little
- Not wanting to leave home
- Trouble concentrating
Types of anxiety disorders:
- Separation anxiety: Fear of being away from a parent or guardian.
- Social anxiety: Worry about school, stores and other places where there are many people.
- General anxiety: Fear of bad things happening.
- Panic disorder: Fear that causes episodes of intense fear that come with physical symptoms, like fast heart rate, trouble breathing, dizziness and sweating.
- Phobias: Extreme fear of a certain thing or situation, like animals, bugs or going to the doctor.
Learn more about anxiety and other mental health conditions.
- Check in with your child. Talk to your child about their worries. Let them know that you support them and ask how you can help them feel less afraid. Tell them you understand their fears but explain that bad feelings don’t always mean something bad is going to happen.
- Keep calm. Having a calm home is a big help to a child with anxiety. Sticking to a daily routine helps them know what to expect. It can also help to limit clutter and loud sounds. Make sure their bedroom feels comfortable and safe.
- Talk to their doctor. Your child’s doctor can help you understand anxiety and how it affects your child. They can answer your questions and explain treatment options.
- Need help finding a doctor? Use the Find-A-Provider Tool or ask your child’s Care Manager.
- Therapy: A therapist can help your child learn healthy ways to cope with anxiety. They can offer support and give your child tips to calm themselves when they feel fear. There are different types of therapy. Some services may be available at your child’s school. Call their doctor or Care Manager with questions.
- Medication: If therapy doesn’t work for your child, or if their anxiety is severe, anti-anxiety medication may be an option. Talk to your child’s doctor for more information.
- Healthy diet: Make sure your child gets plenty of fruits, vegetables and protein. Limit sugar and caffeine, which can trigger anxiety symptoms. It’s important for your child to drink plenty of water as dehydration can affect mood.
- Exercise: Being active is a great distraction from stress. Start small with something like a walk around the block, then help your child work up up to 30 minutes of exercise a couple of times a week. This will help cut down your child’s anxiety symptoms.
- Rest: Getting enough sleep will help lower your child’s anxiety. Try stretching or taking deep breaths together to wind down before bed. Try the 4-4-4 breathing exercise:
- Breathe in for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Exhale for 4 seconds
Your child’s Care Manager can help connect you to services and supports for children with anxiety. Here are some examples of benefits your child may qualify for:
- Behavioral Health Assessment Services: Services used to detect or diagnose mental illnesses and behavioral health disorders. Includes one initial assessment and one reassessment per year, and up to 150 minutes of behavioral health status assessments. Covered as medically necessary.
- Family Therapy Services: Up to 26 hours of family therapy sessions per year. Covered as medically necessary.
- Group Therapy Services: Up to 39 hours of group therapy per year. Covered as medically necessary.
- Individual Therapy Services: Up to 26 hours of one-on-one therapy per year. Covered as medically necessary.
- Medication Management Services: Services to help you make the best choices for taking medication. Covered as medically necessary.
- Mental Health Targeted Case Management: Services to get medical and behavioral health care for people with mental illness. Covered as medically necessary.
- Family Training and Counseling for Child Development: Services and support to your family during your child’s mental health treatment. Covered as medically necessary and recommended by CMS Health Plan.
- Mental Health Partial Hospitalization Program Services: Treatment provided for more than 3 hours a day, several days a week, for people recovering for from mental illness. Covered as medical necessary and recommended by CMS Health Plan. Prior authorization required.
- Mobile Crisis Assessment and Intervention Services: A team of healthcare workers who provide emergency mental health services, usually in people’s homes. Covered as medically necessary and recommended by CMS Health Plan.
- Multi-Systemic Therapy Services: An intensive service focused on the family for children at risk of residential mental health treatment. Covered as medically necessary and recommended by CMS Health Plan. Prior authorization required.
- Psychiatric Specialty Hospital Services: Emergency mental health services that are performed in a facility that is not a regular hospital. Up to 15 days per month. Prior authorization required for voluntary admissions and after three days of involuntary admission.
- Therapeutic Behavioral On-Site Services: Services by a team to prevent children 0-20 with mental illness or behavioral health conditions from being placed in a hospital or other facility. Covered up to 9 hours per month, as medically necessary.
- Swimming Lessons: Physical activity can help your child cope with anxiety. Get up to $200 a year for swimming lessons.
- Equine Therapy*: Therapy that involves activities with horses.
- Pet Therapy*: Therapy that involves activities with trained animals.
- Art Therapy*: Therapy that involves art activities with a behavioral health clinician with an art therapy certification.
Learn more about your child’s CMS Health Plan benefits.
*Through EPSDT (Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment).
- Brave Health: Fully virtual and low-cost therapy and psychiatry for CMS Health Plan members 13 and older. Get an appointment in a week or less for one-on-one or group therapy. Talk about medication and connect with community supports. Text or call 1-305-902-6347, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We’re In This Together by Erika’s Lighthouse: Find tools and resources to connect with your child about their mental health. Browse family guides for talking about mental health and getting help when needed.
- Parent Support Workshops by Mending Hearts Family Counseling Center, Inc.: Free, online workshops that teach the principles of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy. Learn to use bonding and behavior management skills to connect with your child through difficult emotions, like anxiety and anger. Email email@example.com or call 1-909-787-1968.
- Panic Disorder Information and Support Hotline by National Institute of Mental Health: Learn about anxiety, panic disorders and other mental illnesses. Get advice on how to help your child. Call 1-866-615-6464 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
- Services by 7 Cups of Tea: Anonymous online chat with trained volunteers that provide free empathetic listening 24/7. Connect with the first available listener or search for one who shares your background or specializes in certain topics. Some listeners work only with teens 13-17.
- Boys Town National Hotline by Boys Town: Free, one-on-one support from trained counselors through phone, text or email. Available 24/7 to children and teens who are experiencing challenges like anxiety, depression, trauma, abuse and more. Spanish-speaking counselors are available, as well as translation services for more than 100 languages. Call 1-800-448-3000, email email@example.com.
- Youth Resilience Program by Florida State University: Free telehealth and texting therapy for teens 14 to 17 years old. Call 1-850-794-8002.
- Visit the Krames Health Library to access thousands of health sheets on medications, conditions and more. Visit the Community Resource Database to get connected with programs and supports in your area that can help with food shelter, education, jobs and more.