Anxiety vs. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Is generalized anxiety disorder the same as general anxiety? What is the best way to treat children with anxiety disorders?

This May, I hosted a #HealthAMA ("ask me anything") allowing people to ask me any questions on temper tantrums and anger management for kids. You can find all the questions right here, and this summer I've pulled a few to expand on.

Generalized anxiety disorder is the diagnostic name for kids, teens, and adults who meet the criteria. Oftentimes people will say they have anxiety, or general anxiety, without quite meaning that they meet all of the criteria. You can find a screening tool* for kids and for adults put together by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (*which gives you information, but you will want to meet with a counselor, social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist for a true screening).

How to help manage anxiety along with generalized anxiety disorder:

For kids with anxiety, I recommend cognitive behavioral therapy. We learn about feelings, behaviors, and thoughts, and how they all link up together. We dig into what's underneath their strong feelings, and help them come up with a relaxation plan so that they feel more in charge of how they react. With younger kids, I tend to integrate play therapy techniques, art, or storytelling. to help address these concepts in a developmentally approriate way.

Taking it home.

I also like to give parents homework to practice relaxation at home as well. I have a few recordings on my website for brief guided meditation, which I recommend parents use before homework or before bedtime: Guided Meditation Scripts for Kids

Curious to hear more? Kelsey Torgerson specializes in anxiety and anger management for kids, stress for teens, and perfectionism in college students. You can reach her at

She works in Clayton, MO and serves families throughout St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Ladue, Town and Country, Webster Groves, Creve Couer, Kirkwood, Richmond Heights, and Brentwood.