Allyson D Bennett

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Allyson D. Bennett
Dr.
Ph.D.
Lake Charles
Neuropsychiatry
Lake Charles Clinical Trials
One Lakeshore Drive Suite 1695
Lake Charles
LA
70629

My son seems to worry about everything despite my repeated reassurances. This just doesn’t seem “normal”. 

It is important to distinguish between normal worrying and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Most of us experience anxiety to specific circumstances such as tests or having to give a presentation in front of the class. The anxiety or worry is considered to be appropriate in these situations.  Generalized Anxiety Disorder, however, occurs when the child’s worry is excessive and “free floating” (he/she worries about a variety of events).  The symptoms must persist for at least six months and are also associated with at least three of the following restlessness; feeling keyed up or on edge; easily fatigued; difficult concentrating; irritability; and muscle tension. Mild cases of GAD are often treatable with therapy. Medication and/or therapy may be used in more severe cases. 

How common is mental illness?

Mental illnesses are mental health conditions that cause significant impairment in social and/or occupational functioning.  Despite the stigma attached to them, mental illnesses are fairly common in our society. The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health estimates that approximately 1 in 4 people experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. In addition, the results of a 2008 study by the National Institute of Mental Illness indicate that about 5% of adults are suffering from a mental illness at a given point in time. The most common mental illnesses are mood (e.g., depression) and anxiety disorders. Fortunately, most mental health disorders are treatable with medications and/or therapy.  Despite the availability of effective treatments, a significant proportion of mental health problems, however, remain undiagnosed and/or untreated. 

My 7-year-old is clingy and refusing to go to school. I thought we were over this stage. 

Separation anxiety is a normal, healthy reaction in very young children.  It usually begins when the child is 6 to 8 months old and then disappears around age 2.  Separation anxiety disorder, however, occurs when the child’s fear of being separated from a loved one is excessive and lasts more than 4 weeks.  Common symptoms include repeated, unrealistic worry about something bad happening to loved ones; concern about either getting lost or being kidnapped; repeated refusal to go to school; refusal to go to sleep without a caregiver being physically close by; nightmares about being separated from loved ones; bed wetting; and repeated physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches, especially when separation occurs. In mild cases, psychotherapy is the treatment of choice.  However, in moderate to severe cases, a combination of medication and therapy may be best.  

 

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