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Treating 'post-holiday blues,' in kids and teenagers

Children sit in a classroom. (WJAR File Photo)
Children sit in a classroom. (WJAR File Photo)
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Making the transition from the hustle and bustle of holidays to back-to-school can be a source of anxiety for some kids.

"One of the things that happens for kids after the holidays is they're back into the swing of things with school, making lots of transitions after winter break and that can be accompanied by a lot of increased expectations and changes in their lives," said Dr. Mike Walther, a psychologist and the clinical director of intensive services at The Pediatric Anxiety Research Center at Bradley Hospital.

"The warning signs that kids are struggling might be an increase in worries, some avoidance creeping in on their day-to-day activities and some deterioration of functioning in terms of their eating and their sleep," said Walther. "I think the most important message is you want to convey to children it is okay to feel stressed. Most kids in fact do so. We have recent data to suggest that about a third of our current teenagers are struggling with some degree of anxiety symptoms."

Talking to your child is a start. Also, letting them know they're not alone and planning activities to give them something to look forward to can help.

"If a child is attending school every day, they're accessing their extracurricular, they're eating, they're sleeping, they're socializing, they're managing their friendships, that may be the sort of thing that, as they're talking about their stressors and their areas of functioning are looking good enough, that might not require any additional intervention," said Walther.

If your child's anxiety is high?

"Treatments for anxiety are highly effective," Walther said.

And those treatments often include cognitive behavioral or exposure therapy. Walther says they're backed by science and can be done in an outpatient setting.

If your child is in crisis, call Kids Link, a 24/7 hotline at: 1-855-543-5465

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