My wife Donna told me to write blog on Anxiety. She tells me that a lot of people in her Facebook world suffer from this. Family members suffer from this. And, of course, in my autism practice, MOST children suffer with this in one degree or another.
Current research shows that next to alcohol related issues, ANXIETY in adults is top dog in psychiatric disorders. In children, the latest research shows 8-12% of school age children (neurotypical) are diagnosed with anxiety disorder. In my practice, 80% of the children I see demonstrate anxiety.
Anxiety is a maladaptive way the body responds to stressful situations. How the body responds to stress if very complicated, but when the body is no longer able to cope with stress, definite symptoms emerge:
• Excessive, irrational, or uncontrollable feelings of worry and dread
• Trouble sleeping
• Sensations of panic and uneasiness for no apparent reason
• Obsessive thoughts
• Ritualistic behavior
• Heart palpitations
• Muscle tension
• Inability to remain calm
• Trouble concentrating
• Rapid breathing, or hyperventilation
• Dry mouth
• Cold or sweaty hands and feet
• Trembling or shaking
In autism, stress manifests with behaviors that include tantrums, aggression, self-injurious behaviors, not sleeping, refusal to do “work,” decreased appetite, and diarrhea.
There are a few laboratory investigations I like to get as part of the evaluation of anxiety.
Complete blood count
Cortisol levels at 8am, noon, 4pm and 8pm (saliva samples)
Stool study that shows the predominate bacteria growing
In my next blog, I will discuss dietary changes and supplements that can dramatically help how our body responds to stress and some natural ways to provide relief!