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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Medication Alternatives for Relaxation

01/18/2006

Question:

We have recently (3 months ago) experienced a death in our family which was my daughter`s paternal grandmother who has played a large role in her life as a caregiver for us while I work. My daughter is 10 years old and has always been an anxious kid, partly due to a medical condition of having a severe nut allergy, and partly due to her personality. She has been experiencing many grief issues which we have been working through but she is very intraverted and is not all all interested in a peer support group or therapy. She has exhibited many sleep disturbances lately we have been trying to work through as well. She presently has a fear of not being able to go to sleep, and so she "NEEDS" me to stay awake with her until she falls asleep. Unfortunatly, this sometimes takes several (3-4) hours. I have tried a relaxation tape, having her listen to music, allowing her to read a book...None of this seems to work. The only thing that works for her is a sleep aide which I am reluctant to continue giving her...Is there a product out there (some type of relaxation tape or audio hypnosis product) appropriate for a child to help her mind get a break long enough to allow her to fall asleep????

Answer:

Your child's anxiety is manifesting itself in her sleep disturbance and the benefit and gain she gets from your staying up with her.  I would talk to your child's physician about re-establishing good sleep hygiene procedures.  It sounds like a sedative hypnotic has already been prescribed so further support from your physician is warranted.  I would assert that your child "does" need professional counseling and that consultation with a mental health professional is both warranted and prudent at this juncture. 

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati