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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Changes in Attitude



My daughter has never been an `easy going` child. She has always seemed to be quite sensitive and difficult to deal with. She turned 4 in April and will be starting school next week. She hasn`t complained about going to school and in fact seems excited about it. However, she has become easily irritated by the smallest things. At timed she will have a melt down for no apparent reason. She has been complaining for approx a week about `smells`. She doesn`t like this smell and can`t be around it. She leaves the room crying and holding her nose. It got so bad that I bought a spray bottle and filled it with water so she would stop holding her nose it was getting very red). She has become very whiny and again easily irritated. My wife and I are feeling overwhelmed because we don`t know what`s wrong or how to help her. She had also started saying (as part of the melt downs- screaming, wretching her voice), `I hate myself`, `I hate you`. We have never said `hate` and don`t know why she is saying this. We are constantly praising both her and her 20month old sister with love, hugs and kisses. We don`t know what to do. Does she have a stress disorder? What should we do when she has these melt downs - at the time and after?


Some children have "temperament" which makes them more vulnerable to anxiety and/or stress, even at this young age.  It sounds like a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional is in order.

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati