Differences between fear and anxiety in children

Differences between fear and anxiety in children

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Many times the words fear and anxiety are used as if they were synonymous, but in reality they are two completely different terms. Do you want to know the differences between the two and how they can affect your children? We explain how they are distinguished, which are the main differences between fear and anxiety in children.

The fear it is an ancient feeling that alerts us to an imminent danger. Fear, far from being a negative thing, is a feeling that protects us. The goal of fear is survival. From the caves, fear has served so that man can defend himself from different threats such as the attack of a beast. In fact, fear prepares us for paralysis, flight, or fight.

When we feel fear we release the hormone cortisol which increases blood pressure and blood glucose and converts fatty acids into energy preparing the body's muscles for reaction. It increases the action of our heart and lungs so that we can run and breathe better. The adrenaline we release would help us if we had to defend ourselves.

Therefore, do not worry that your children feel fear. The worrying thing would be that they didn't feel it. Imagine that you travel to a place where there are cliffs with a drop of 30 meters. If your child was not afraid, he would not stop when he reached the edge of the cliff. His fear makes him be cautious in a dangerous situation.

These are some of the most common fears in childhood:

- Fear of separation from the mother or father.
- Fear of strangers.
- Fear of loud noises.
- Fear of heights.
- Fear of sleeping alone and of the dark.
- Fear of clowns and people in disguise.
- Fear of catastrophes.
- Fear of imaginary beings (ghosts, etc.).
- Fear of ridicule and disapproval of others.
- Fear of death.

All these fears are frequent, they occur temporarily and are modulated with experience. If they persist as the children grow, we must make a decision. In other words, if a 14-year-old child cannot sleep alone, we should consult with the pediatrician because we may be facing an anxiety disorder that requires psychological attention.

Anxiety is not something so specific, but it depends on each person. It is a more subjective feeling whose causes are not as clear as in the case of fear. Sometimes we feel anxious and we don't know why. When faced with anxiety, we can experience restlessness, stress and nerves, which are accompanied by physiological symptoms such as tachycardia, breathing difficulties, sweating or tremors.

In addition, anxiety is experienced before something that we can feel as a threat in the future, not in the present moment, as happens with fear.

We could say then that fear is caused by a specific cause and we feel it in the here and now and yet anxiety is something abstract, which we cannot define and it can respond to something that worries us in our future.

In the brain there are also differences when it comes to perceiving one of the two feelings.

- Fear is experienced in the amygdala and occurs in the short circuit because it requires a rapid and primitive response. You have to make a decision at that precise moment in order to survive.

- On the other hand, the anxiety reaction needs an interpretation of the information we are receiving, that is, there will be a cognitive analysis. It leaves us time to think.

Treating fear and anxiety they must be done with two different approaches. Faced with a specific fear, what is done is to try to prevent the stimulus-reaction connection that occurs in the amygdala from occurring. And how is this accomplished? Well, exposing the child to the stimulus that causes fear, in a gradual and controlled way and that he gets used to that situation until he normalizes it.

However, if our son has had a chapter of anxiety you have to try to change your way of thinking, because there is no definite and real cause, but the cause is created by the child in his mind. We have to bear in mind that there has been an anomalous way of interpreting reality.

You can read more articles similar to Differences between fear and anxiety in children, in the category of Fears on site.

Video: Fear vs. Anxiety - Whats the difference? (February 2023).