How Anxiety Affects Children With Anxiety and Their Friendships

You know that having an anxiety disorder affects your child’s peer relationships, but recent research indicates that not all anxious children have the same relationship difficulties or social impairments.

While this finding smacks of common sense, some of the research outcome specifics were unexpected and enlightening.

The study compared aspects of social functioning between non-anxious (NA) children and those with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD). The children were 6 to 13 years of age.

Information was gathered through semi-structured interviews with the children and their parents, and parents filled out questionnaires regarding their child’s friendships, social problems and competence.

What the Study Indicates

Children with GAD are generally conscientious and rule-abiding individuals. These two qualities are more likely than not to foster good friendships. This helps explain some of the study’s findings.

Children with generalized anxiety disorder:

  • Have fewer friends than the NA (non-anxious) children.
  • Are just as likely to have a best friend as NA children.
  • Have the same quality of peer interactions as NA peers and see their friends just as frequently to do things outside of the classroom.
  • They have an equal ability to make new friends as NA peers. (Previous studies have shown that kids with GAD are considered as likable as non-anxious children.)

One reason children with GAD may have fewer friends than NA children is that they are more selective. GAD children might avoid friendships with individuals who are risk-takers, are highly adventurous or play loosely with rules. Plus, children with GAD, if they are competent and conscientious, may spend more time at home completing their homework and less time socializing.

Children with social anxiety disorder:

  • Have fewer friends than NA children but about the same number as those with GAD.
  • Are just as likely to have a best friend as those with GAD, or NA peers.
  • Have significant difficulty making new friends.
  • Are not as socially competent; the quality of their interactions is poorer. They spend less time with their peers, initiate interaction less frequently, and receive more negative or “ignore” responses from others.

Interestingly, children with SAD are just as likely to be involved in organized groups or clubs as their GAD peers or NA children. This may be because parents of children with SAD enroll them in activities, hoping the child will make friends. Another factor might be that some children’s organizations require or allow the presence of parents, helping a socially anxious child feel more comfortable.

Something important to note is that children who show improvement in symptoms of SAD get treatment not only to address their physical feeling of anxiety but receive social skills training as well.

How the Three Study Groups Are Alike

Participants in all three groups (NA, GAD, SAD) scored nearly the same in the category of social problems. These are difficulties that may develop within interpersonal relationships. The children’s ratings were all in the nonclinical or “normal” range concerning dependence, loneliness, jealousy, clumsiness, and speech problems.

Some researchers speculate that children with SAD because their social engagement is less frequent, have fewer opportunities to develop social problem issues.

Source: Children with Generalized Anxiety Disorder Do Not Have Peer Problems, Just Fewer Friends
Photo: Pixabay

More Articles

Anxiety medication is one of the effective treatments for anxiety disorders that have been developed through research. There are two types of...

Ludiomil (generic: maprotiline) is a tetracyclic antidepressant used for the treatment of depression and anxiety. As with any medication, there...

I hope if you made it this far, that the information I have provided has begun to help you as far as an understanding anxiety disorder. I can't...

In the first study of its kind in this specific patient population, researchers from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found...

Why is Celexa prescribed?

Celxa or Citalopram, is used to treat depression. Citalopram is in a class of antidepressants (mood elevators)...

More Articles

For sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), prolonged exposure (PE) therapy is a proven, effective treatment. Sometimes referred to as...

The expression "worried sick" caught on for a reason--it is not uncommon for anxiety to produce nausea as a symptom. Severe anxiety or fear cause...

There are a lot of techniques and good advice available on how to overcome panic disorder, from watching what you eat and drink to changing the...

It's easy to feel like you're the only one feeling anxious in performance situations, whether it's giving a speech in front of a few people or...

Prior research into obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has found it very difficult to conclusively prove the link between hypersensitivity and...

If you're contemplating starting medication for an anxiety disorder, you no doubt have discovered that there are literally dozens of prescription...

By definition, social anxiety disorder (SAD) is an overwhelming physical and mental response to everyday social interactions, one that generally...

When it comes to treating social anxiety disorder, there are three types of medication that are commonly prescribed: antidepressants,...

Aromatherapy for anxiety may be a useful natural remedy in helping ease symptoms. Aroma means a pleasant or agreeable odor arising from plants,...

While both men and women can experience anxiety and...

Advil is one of several marketing brand names for the widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) commonly known as ibuprofen.

...

If you have any of the physical symptoms of anxiety listed below, please don't suffer any longer -- seek help immediately. Your first step is to...

A recent study on anxiety and exercise found better results with resistance training than with aerobic exercise, despite the fact that most of the...

This article was written exclusively for LivingWithAnxiety.com by Camille Rynd. She explains why she resorted to self-medicating and how much...

Neurontin, generically known as gabapentin, is an anticonvulsant drug approved by the FDA to treat certain types of seizures in epileptics...