What should I do if my child or spouse is anxious?

Living with someone who is anxious can be difficult at times. It may restrict the activities of other members of the family in important ways. For instance, a child who is anxious about going to unfamiliar places may convince the family that they should not take a holiday to a new destination. Similarly, the partner of someone with agoraphobia may have extra chores they are responsible for, such as driving the children to sport and doing the weekly shopping.

The decision to get help for panic disorder can be a difficult one to make. There will often be a lot of fear associated with seeking treatment and for those with agoraphobia getting to treatment will often involve facing one's fears. For some, past treatment may have been disappointing and they may be skeptical about the benefits of seeking help.

The key to supporting a relative or friend who is anxious will be to be encouraging and understanding.

The organisations and further reading suggested in Appendix 3 will also be helpful for family and friends of people experiencing panic disorder and agoraphobia.

Child and adolescent psychiatrists and mental health services can assess and treat young people for anxiety disorders.

There is good evidence that these disorders are often preventable and early intervention is recommended.

The organisations listed in Appendix 3 can also provide referral information to parents for children and adolescents.

An Australian guideline 'clinical approaches' is available to help professionals treat these disorders in younger people.