Anxiety Disorder Testing
Is your child often overwhelmed with fear or worry? Do they avoid people, places, or activities such as school or social events? Do they have negative thoughts and always seems to think of the worst-case scenario? These could be signs of an anxiety disorder, and understanding them is the first step to finding a solution. At My Child Assessment Los Angeles, Dr. Michaeli specializes in comprehensive assessments for anxiety. These evaluations enable individuals to gain insight into the intrusive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that interfere with their day to day functioning, and address their challenges through treatment that is effective, comprehensive, and tailored to their needs.
Why Choose an Anxiety Disorder Evaluation?
Clarity: Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, individuals with anxiety disorders have intense, excessive, and persistent worry that disrupts their daily lives. Anxiety can manifest in ways that are not only limited to feelings of fear and tension; it can impact concentration, lead to avoidance of situations, disrupt sleep, and result in physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, or feeling unwell. It can also affect social relationships, and cause moodiness, irritability, or periods of sadness. Because of the pervasive impact it can have on overall well-being, anxiety can be difficult to identify, and can often be confused with other problems such as an attention or learning disorder, or medical condition. Other times, anxiety in children may be dismissed as being “just a phase” A comprehensive evaluation can provide clarity by helping to identify the underlying problem.
Targeted Support: Anxiety disorders can cast a shadow on children by masking their true potential. This is because kids can become so consumed with their own thoughts, they have fewer mental resources to spend on learning and their environment. A high-quality assessment can help to identify not only the treatments best suited for the individual, but also determine environmental changes needed in order to reduce the effects of this mood disruption. This includes an educational plan with school-based accommodations, supports for the home and family, individual strategies for the patient, and community-based resources.
Empowerment: Many people mistakenly assume that anxiety is a personality trait that cannot be changed. Despite this belief, anxiety is highly treatable, and there are a number of effective ways to improve symptoms; including therapy, medication management, mind-body techniques, lifestyle changes, and other practices. By gaining insights into their difficulties and ways to address them, families can feel empowered to take control of their children’s future by helping them lead happier, less stressful lives.
Common Anxiety Disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder worry excessively about various things, such as school, relationships, and future events; and they struggle with controlling their worry. Their constant state of anxiety interferes with other areas of functioning such as academic, social, or family life.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: Individuals with a social anxiety disorder have an intense fear of situations where they might be judged or evaluated by others. This might include answering a question in class, meeting new people, or public speaking.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: Common in children, separation anxiety involves an intense fear of being separated from a parent or loved one. Children may have difficulty going to school or sleeping alone, and they may worry about a situation involving the loss of an attachment figure.
- Panic Disorder: Panic Disorder is characterized by sudden and recurrent panic attacks; these are episodes of intense fear that include physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain and dizziness. While they do not cause physical harm, individuals often develop a fear of experiencing future panic attacks.
- Specific Phobias: Specific Phobias involve irrational fears of specific objects or situations, such as elevators, animals, or medical procedures. These fears can lead to avoidance behaviors and significant distress.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Obsessive-compulsive disorder involves intrusive thoughts (obsessions), which leads to repetitive behaviors or rituals (compulsions) aimed at reducing distress or a feared situation. Those with OCD may feel compelled to perform certain actions to alleviate unwanted thoughts or urges.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. While this is typically results from physical sources of trauma such as abuse or serious injury, it can also result from emotional abuse. Individuals with PTSD may have flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts related to the traumatic experience.
- Other Anxiety Disorders: In addition to the above, there are various other anxiety disorders that can impact children, such as fear of public places (agoraphobia), fear of speaking (selective mutism), and fear of illness.
Dr. Nicole Michaeli's Approach
Anxiety is among the most common mental health concerns, affecting nearly 1/3 of individuals in their lifetime. Beyond this broad diagnosis, however, lies the intricate web of thoughts and feelings that is unique to each individual struggling with anxiety. Through her caring and kind demeanor and ability to connect with individuals of all ages, Dr. Michaeli creates a safe space where they can openly share their experiences, and begin to unravel their mass of thoughts. The assessment aims to explore patterns of fear and worry, root causes, and the maladaptive beliefs that sustain them. A main focus is placed on determining how their mood impacts other areas of their development, including learning, social interactions, and the ability to interact with their environment. In many cases, anxiety is found to co-occur with various neurodevelopmental disorders such as a learning or processing disorder; and in these cases, the interplay of mood and cognition becomes an area of focus.
The evaluation process uses rigorously developed and empirically validated standardized tests in order to assess neurocognitive and psychological functioning. Through a collaborative process, this data is combined with input from parents, educators, and providers, along with clinical observations, conversations with the patient, and record review. Once a detailed conceptualization is formed, Dr. Michaeli crafts a treatment plan that aligns with the individual’s unique needs and promotes emotional resilience.
In the journey of children’s development, anxiety can feel like a tall mountain that is impeding their growth. But with knowledge, guidance, and an individualized plan, these mountains can be transformed into stepping stones toward growth and resilience. Through a comprehensive assessment, children can gain the confidence to take on their challenges and harness their strengths, illuminating their path towards a better and brighter future.