Childhood Stress and Anxiety

This information is useful for children
Photo of a young boy sitting contemplatively on the ground.
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Our “whole child” philosophy treats all issues in the full context of a child’s life.
  • Families can participate in clinical trials for innovative treatments hard to find elsewhere.
  • Our Anxiety & Mood Disorders Program offers unique treatments for childhood anxiety.

Uncomfortable as it is, anxiety is a normal human emotion that serves important functions, including protecting people and motivating them to solve problems. Children are vulnerable to feeling anxious as they don’t know much about the world and rely on adults for security. 

Learning to manage anxiety productively, including developing the ability to differentiate between reasonable and unreasonable fears and ways to calm down, is a valuable and important life skill.

Many adults assume that children with high levels of anxiety will outgrow the problem, but it's somewhat the opposite, says Wendy Silverman, PhD, director of the Yale Medicine Child Study Center's Anxiety & Mood Disorders Program and a professor of psychology at Yale School of Medicine. Substantial research links untreated childhood anxiety with mental illness in adulthood, including not only ongoing anxiety but also depression and substance abuse. She adds that anxiety is the most common mental health problem in children and adults, affecting from eight percent to 10 percent of the U.S. population; the median age of onset is 11.

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.