Symptom Tests

[Self-Test] Does My Child Have Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Every child worries sometimes — about monsters or tests or new experiences. A child with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) feel anxious about nearly everything, all the time. Use this screener test to see if your kid shows signs of GAD.

Anxiety is the brain's helpful and essential internal alarm system that activates our fight, flight, or freeze response. Typically, anxiety is triggered when a child feels vulnerable, in danger of being embarrassed, or in trouble. In children with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), these feelings or worry don’t always have a logical source and they are typically persistent, crippling, and way out of proportion.

It's not uncommon for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) to be mistaken for ADHD symptoms in children. When a child’s attention is consumed by her vigilance and fearfulness, she may be unable to redirect her attention to anything else. She may also appear inattentive when her intense attention and worry is turned inward toward managing fears. Other children with GAD may try to be perfect at school, at home, and in sports. They may constantly worry about performance and want constant reassurance that they are doing a good job. This worry may cause headaches, muscular tension, restlessness, heart palpitations, and stomach upsets.

GAD is more common in girls and rarely emerges before adolescence. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your child, take the results of this screener test to mental health professional for evaluation.

Adapted from the screening for an Anxiety Disorder: Children from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale. This is not a diagnostic tool. If you have concerns about possible anxiety see a mental health professional. An accurate diagnosis can only be made through clinical evaluation. This self-test is for personal use only.

Does your child require constant approval and reassurance that she’s done a good job?

Are you woken in the night because your child had another nightmare about something bad happening to you?

Does your child become so scared that she says it’s hard to breathe?

Does your child fill her bed with stuffed animals and the family pet because she is too nervous to sleep alone?

When you are all at home for the day, does your child follow you around the house wherever you go?

Is your child scared to get on the bus and go to school every day? 

Is your child easily fatigued? Does he or she complain of sore muscles?

Has your child come home from a slumber party because she’s too scared to sleep away from home?

Even when you are upstairs and your child is in the basement, does he get scared about being alone in the house? 

Does your child change clothes several times a day because she sweats a lot when she is nervous? 

Is your child irrationally afraid of flying in an airplane, or of a certain animal?

Does your child expect the worst, even when there is no justification for worry?

Does your child come home sick from school with a stomachache or headache?

At birthday parties, does your child feel nervous if left with people she doesn’t know very well?

Does your child tremble when she’s in crowded places like the shopping mall or a busy playground?

After school, does your child spend an excessive amount of time doing and redoing homework worksheets because he doesn’t want anything to be less than perfect?

Have teachers mentioned that your child seems nervous working in groups or speaking in class? 

(Optional) Would you like to receive your anxiety symptom test results — plus more helpful resources — via email from ADDitude?

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General Anxiety Disorder in Children: Next Steps

1. Take This Test: Does My Child Have ADHD?
2. Take This Test: Does My Child Have Depression?
3. Read Treatment Options for the Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
4. Take This Test:  Does My Child Have Autism?
5. Take This Test: Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Children
6. Download 15 Ways to Disarm (and Understand) Explosive ADHD Emotions
7. Learn What Anxiety Disorders Look Like in Children
8. Find: Specialists or Clinics Near You