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Darn210

Overly-anxious Child

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OK - this is not directly related to Celiac Disease but has raised it's ugly head as we have been pursuing some medical answers. . .

My son is eight (almost nine). He has always been somewhat fearful. He still wants his overhead light on when he goes to bed. After he falls asleep, we shut it off and leave a little bedside light on. He has a fair amount of nightmares (more when he was younger). He is highly imaginative and went through a phase where he kept asking me about ways somebody my try and kill him/us . . . what if somebody put poison gas in our vents, what if somebody blew up our house, what if I'm walking and the Wal-Mart sign falls on me? . . . all questions I had to answer (and more).

It manifests itself at the doctor's office, too. He is hysterical now when he gets a flu shot. Last time we had to drag him out from under the doc's desk. He's had two blood draws and they did not go well . . . the phlebotomists actually were very good but once again, he is hysterical. I think he has a decent pain threshold. A fall on his bike or such does not cause tears, only a request for neosporin and a bandaid (he is somewhat of a germaphobe.) The sight of his own blood is not a problem. His hysteria is fear-based. As soon as the shot or blood draw is over, so is the hysteria . . . immediately!! . . . no wind down, it just stops. Once he loses it, he's hard to reach, like he can't hear a word you say.

It seems that matters are getting worse. Each flu shot is worse than the year before. The second blood draw, they had to hold down his arm because he was flailing about. He only remembers his fear and not the fact that the event did NOT live up to his catastrophic expectations.

He is scheduled for a tonsilectomy on Monday. He knows it is coming but doesn't know when. He talks about it all the time. The ENT gave us the choice of waiting until summer so he won't miss school but we KNOW that he would stew on it from now until then and opted to go now versus waiting. During one of his recent crying jags over the blood draw (which was yesterday) and the upcoming surgery, he also let it slip that he is worried about having to get braces (in a year or two??). That slip got me thinking about how much he is internalizing his anxiety. We see a fair amount but how much more is he holding in?

I was thinking about seeing a family therapist to help him master some coping skills and to determine how much he is hiding/internalizing. Anybody have these kind of issues with their children? Has anybody taken their child to a therapist for this kind of issue? Were you happy with the results?

Just for the record, I have not notice anxiety issues associated with school. He has no problem getting up and talking in front of the class. He doesn't appear to be anxious about his tests. Actually, he doesn't even appear to be concerned about his tests.

And one more piece of background info . . . his twin sister died at the age of 8 months. We have had candid discussions about what happened. In the past, I felt like he understood, processed, and accepted the information but now I'm wondering if this might be at the root of his anxiety.

Anybody with a similar experience that they can share with me??


Janet

Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.

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Gosh, I'm sorry you have to deal with this. Must be really tough to see the little guy going through all that. I wish I had some advice for you. I imagine the death of his sister combined with ill health due to celiac could definitely be the cause of his health and injury related anxiety.


Gluten-Free since September 15, 2005.

Peanut-Free since July 2006.

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My son was a worrier, but not exactly like that - i could usually talk him through medical procedures - he actually had allergy prick test when he was in 4th grade and i got him through it with nothing more than really angry "Ow" over and over. However, if he saw the number 7 on a math sheet, he would panic to the point that he would hide under his desk. He was evaluated and found to be mildly autistic, as well as clinical levels of anxiety and depression. His depression was much more worrisome, as he would tell me that if it wasnt for me, he wouldnt want to live.

He was in therapy, but ended up on meds - which made a huge difference for him. Basically, the therapist just said he shouldnt be THIS upset - she called me in one time because he was confessing that he was afraid that I only wanted him to get better so that I could kick him out of the house when he was 18, and he was just crying his eyes out over it. The therapist pretty much implied that, that kind of anxiety just needs to be medicated, because he was way too irrational to work anything out.

Now, mind you, my son is still not off gluten - he's not been tested for anything, but will soon. I really wonder how much better he woudl have done if he'd been tested for food sensitivities and allergies (his allergist only tested for inhalents).

Anyways, I do suggest getting some sort of evaluation - I ended up going thru several therapist and doctors before I found people who would really do a thorough evaluation and really work with him. Do some homework about who's available in your area and who's good at what.

good luck


Cara - 42, mom to dd 15, ds 12, ds 4

Off gluten and dairy (and tapioca ;-( ) since 11/07

A.L.C.A.T. test showed over 50 sensitive foods

Celiac panel came back negative.

Regular allergy testing reacted to every inhalant and all but 6 foods.

Slowly adding in foods, started w 19 and now have 25

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Janet--

I don't have a lot to offer by way of advice. I agree it sounds like he is internalizing a lot of fear and anxiety and it seems tied to matters of health/medical procedures. I would think that the next logical step after being open and talking things out with him at home would be to get the opinion of a professional. Under the circumstances, I believe it's what I'd do.

I also want to say that I'm so sorry about your little daughter.


Patti

"Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans"

"When people show you who they are, believe them"--Maya Angelou

"Bloom where you are planted"--Bev

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I am new to this site and came across your profile while loking for people in Indy. I saw your question and erroneously answered in your comment section.[ Still learning how to work things :P ] So I'll give your a more lengthy answer here. When my daughter was little, she had a hard time sleeping. That is when she would start worrying about dying--- in her sleep, from a tonado, fire,etc. When she was about 5, she got dizzy, stomach cramps & passed out while helping her dad make cookies. Dr said it's not unusual for girls to get cramps and falsely dx spastic colon.A couple years later she started having stomach aches daily and lightheadedness. New dr said she was hypoglycemic. It eventually went away. Now at age 22 she suffers from GERD. I myself am recently self-diagnosed celiac. I am encouraging her to get tested. [ She did tell our Dr that her mom thought she was celiac, and wanted to get tested. He got huffy and said I can't diagnose myself and he won't test her until I do it first. I refuse to go back to a regular diet at this point. My issues w/him are another story] She will try to get her OBGYN to test her. Also, she has been dx w/ anxiety disorder.

By the way, she is a phlebotomist :D

Lisa


~~Lisa~~

"The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it."--Moliere

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."--Douglas Adams

Friends may come and go but Sillies are Forever!!!!!!!--Amanda

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gluten-free since 1/08

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Has the doctor ruled out a seizure disorder? My niece with diagnosed with everything (anxiety, PTSD...) over the years-and she actually had Temporal-lobe epilepsy

Hyperventilating during the shot or blood draw could trigger a seizure.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001399.htm

Her seizures always looked like temper tantrums or panic attacks.

The hard to reach/can't seem to hear you part during his episodes really sounds like the classic seizure behavior.

I'm sure you're aware of the celiac epilepsy link....


I don't eat gluten and neither do my cats

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I was thinking about seeing a family therapist to help him master some coping skills and to determine how much he is hiding/internalizing. Anybody have these kind of issues with their children? Has anybody taken their child to a therapist for this kind of issue? Were you happy with the results?

I have no experience with children except that I was one not too long ago but I think that your idea about the family therapist is a good one. It could help him develop coping skills that would help him for the rest of his life. Another benefit would be that it would normalize the idea of going to a therapist when you are struggling with something that you don't know how to cope with. A lot of adults don't even think to turn to psychotherapy when they don't know how to cope. If he ever began struggling with anxiety again at a later time in his life, he would have it in his mind that seeing a psychotherapist can be a positive experience that could help him. If you do decide to find a family therapist, my only advice would be to make sure that you and your son both feel as comfortable as possible with him/her and if not find another one.

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My DD started out by seeing a therapist when she was 17, but felt it was a waste of time. All thru her childhood I would have long talks with her when she became anxious and we would discuss coping skills. So she grew up with the knowledge of how to lessen her anxiety. But the older she got, the harder it became for her to control it. Her symptoms were sometimes very similar to schizophrenia. It required medication. Even though she could rationalize that her thoughts were illogical, she could no longer control them on her own. She is a very happy and level-headed person now :D

Lisa


~~Lisa~~

"The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it."--Moliere

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."--Douglas Adams

Friends may come and go but Sillies are Forever!!!!!!!--Amanda

_________________

gluten-free since 1/08

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My 12 year old was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when he was 7, though it retrospect it was there earlier. symptoms tend to emerge for boys arond 7-8 yers, for girls around 11-12 I think. At 2 years old,we had to reassure him there was no Santa because he didn't like the idea of someone sneaking in the house while he was asleep. Anyway, beofre this he had great abdominal pain issues, which we had evaluated (he does not ohave celiac and shows no reaciton to gluten) Once, we got talking about and treating anxiety, the pain vanished, it was great. well, that part was great. He had lots of nightmares, and the checking and questioning about everything is also very characteristic of anxiety disorders. I answered so many questions about what might be toxic, acid rain, and what he he accidently sniffed to many markers. He had some creative worries. My dd, 9years old, has social anxiety and selective mutism. Anxiety disorders tend to be hereditary. The good news is therapy did really help, and in his case we avoided medication. WE are considering it for my dd, though she has improved with therapy. you want to look at cognitive behavioral therapy, which is the onoy one really proven to help anxiety disorders. It also seems that for mowt kids events can trigger worries, but tend not to be the cause of the whole thing. Brain scans actually show different areas highloighter in people with anxiety disorders. My son was very relieved to learn about what was oging on in his head, that it happened to other kids too, and that we could make the worry bugs stop. One way we explained it was junk mail. Evey brain gets lots of messages like junk mail, only you only need to pay attention to some of the messages, if you worry about every possibility, it gets to overwhelming. so we worked together to learn what was junk mail which he could ignore, and what were real concerns. also practiced lots of deep breathing, and morning stretches, yoga. the other thing that helps both my kids is fish oil supplements. there is some research now on that used as antidepressent/antianxiety in children and postpartum.

A good book, is Freeing your Child form OCD, or Freeing Your child from Anxiety, by Tamar Chansky. the former has a better explanation of overall anxiety than the latter, though both are helpful. I think she also has website , worrywise kids.

We actually only saw the therapist a few times, but made up our own program at home from the above books (we live rurally so nothing was close, and my master's degree is in Psychology-spec ed and family therapy) and a few appointments to make sure we were going OK. It did reassure him to know he wasn't the only kid who had these issues as there was a doctor whose only job was to help kids with lots of worries.

good luck getting through the surgery.

Patty

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Janet,

I think seeing a good therapist is a great idea. They could have some excellent ideas to help him cope with his fears... writing, drawing, practicing various scenarios... specific exercises designed to help him. Having their input and ideas could be very useful.

We haven't had to deal with this ourselves. Lucas does have an abnormally strong fear of the sight of blood- not quite to the point of hysteria, though.

I also want to say how incredibly sorry I am to hear about the loss of your little girl.

(((BIG HUGS)))


-Sarah

--Son, Lucas, age 7. Gluten-free since May 2007

--Son, Ezra, age 5. Gluten-free 10/13/07. Bipolar tendencies, massively improved on gluten-free diet! He's also allergic to a jillion antibiotics.

--My mother has Celiac Disease, dx'ed by Positive Blood Tests and Biopsy. Diagnosed Sarcoidosis 6/08.

--Myself, Gluten-free since 8/07

Time heals all hurt of heart... but time must be won.

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We had the tonsils removed today. It could have gone better, but it could have also been much worse.

Thank you all for your replies and suggestions.

I did want to say that in general he is a happy and mostly healthy (small for his age) boy. He does not appear to have Celiac. His 6 month gluten free trial produced no changes. Also, there were no reactions after two known (significant) glutenings. However, we are still on the diet until we get the OK from the GI.

His anxiety does appear to be mostly focused on health/medical/death type of situations. He told the neighbor that he thought he would die during surgery :(

I talked to my husband about counseling. I surprised him with the suggestion because he didn't think our son was that bad and kind of along the lines of he'll grow out of it. I think if we do something about it now, it will keep us from having big problems later. My husband is getting used to the idea and has talked about how we should go about finding someone good/trustworthy.

Thanks again.


Janet

Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.

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