New here: 11-year old with anxiety

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by taj616, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. taj616

    taj616 New Member


    I am the mother of two beautiful girls. My 14-year old was diagnosed 4 years ago with Crohn's disease. Shortly after, my (now 11-year old) started with similar bowel symptoms which ended up being IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) which I too suffer from.
    My Crohnie has been in a remission state due to Remicade infusuions every 8 weeks. So she's living life as best she can with little to no significan digestive issues. The 11-year old takes daily fiber therapy to relieve her sypmtoms.

    Two years ago, my 11-year old got carsick for the first time during the summer before 4th grade. She refused to go in the small car where it happened for long trips believing she wouldn't get sick in the van. Then when school started and our bus route changed, I got calls that she felt sick in the office 2-3 days a week...which turned into me driving her to school because she was afraid she'd get sick on the bus...which turned into a fear of field trips which require a bus to get there. We struggled with this her entire 4th grade year...doing counseling to try and manage things. We succeeded in getting her back on the bus by Christmas and when it came to the spring fieldtrip to go 'caving' which she worried about for a day and a half before it even happened...we used a reward system for getting her to go without freaking out. It worked and the rest of the year went well. We had trouble that summer getting her to drive up north (a little over 2 hours) because she was worried about getting we didn't go hardly ever.

    5th grade started and the bus was fine, but then she started to be overly concerned about having a stomach ache and if she was going to vomit. Then became concerned when other students got sick at school or even knew someone who was sick and wondered if she could get it from them. Missed days at school for said stomach-aches....was late many days 1-2 hours because her stomach didn't feel right. We saw our primary care physician who took blood, tested for h-pylori (which can cause stomach ulcers) tested for inflamation, etc and found everything to be normal. So we went to another counselor, worked on deep breathing and journaling which seemd to help a bit --but I felt like the minute she'd feel anything in her belly she was worrying about it. She thew up at school once (in the nurse's office) and was legitimately sick with a fever and I told her the rule for staying home from school is she has to have a fever or is vomiting. Doesn't always work to convince her. Her worries get progressively worse because the stomach aches are more frequent. Doctor says we need to see a psychiatrist because she believes there isn't anything physical going on, that the problem is mental and the way she's processing information in her brain. I agree. She's putting off hanging with friends because she's got stomach aches :sigh:

    We got in with a new therapist last week and finally got to see the psychiatrist (at the same facility) yesterday (6/15) who talked with us at great length about what's been going on and because it's been two years and things are getting worse he felt medication would help her, especially working with the therapist (every week) to manage her fears.

    It took 45 minutes of crying and saying I can't do it repeatedly this morning before she finally took the 5mg of generic prozac. She's worried it'll hurt her stomach...she's worried ANYTHING will hurt her stomach. I told her it's her worries that are making her stomach hurt and she has to trust that the doctor knows...but she always doubts asking me "how do you know????"

    I'm hoping the prozac works to calm her thoughts so she can focus on herself, which she seems to have lost interest in at times. So she can focus on using strategies to tell herself everything will be okay.

    I'm just wondering if our situation sounds similar to anyone else and what your experience has been. What's worked and what hasn't. She's a beautiful, caring and smart girl who used to be fearless. I want her to feel that way again. Thanks for reading, sorry it's so long.

  2. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm so sorry that both of you kids have such issues. My oldest was diagnosed with Crohn's at age 9 and had multiple hospitalizations and surgeries for it, so I understand all too well the anxiety related to bowel/GI issues. I know that early on with her, food became associated with pain, and it became more difficult for her to try new foods etc. for fear it would exacerbate her symptoms. I think working with a therapist and psychiatrist is the best thing for now to help your 11 year old. Another thought is a support group for kids with similar issues. I know with your youngest it's IBS and not IBD, but both Oldest and I found great support through the Crohns and Colitis Foundation, as well as an online message board that I can refer you to if you want to PM me. You may want to talk to her Pediatric GI, too, to see if they know of any local support groups, or even see if they're willing to contact other patients that might be willing to talk to her about how they cope with IBS.
  3. keista

    keista New Member


    CrazyinVA's idea of finding local support groups for the kids is right on. If your daughter meets other kids in her similar situation, that anxiety may relax a bit.

    Along with the deep breathing and journaling, have you tried any natural remedies for nausea like ginger ale, or those motion sickness bracelets? She seems to be in a chicken and egg situation - she got sick then started worrying about getting sick, and the worrying is now making her sick. Maybe you can introduce some of those type of things (one at a time) as a "magic cure" and "Let's see if it works for you" They do REALLY work so if they do calm the nausea, it might help her get the confidence to push through the "high anxiety" situations.
  4. taj616

    taj616 New Member

    Thanks for the responses so far.
    I don't think she wants to go to a support group right now, and wouldn't go to one willingly. I do keep telling her that she's not alone...other kids are anxious too! I usually get the standard "How do you know?"...

    @Kiesta -- I talked to my 14-year old's peds GI about her sister and he had suggested peppermint oil capsules to help sooth/relax her stomach. She wouldn't take the first one...put up such a stink about it (while grandma and grandpa where here) then grandpa offered her $10 to take it and she did. 4 days into taking them, something made her morning capsule open pre-maturely (I think it was acid from fresh pineapple she ate for breakfast) and she was in the school nurse's office...on the phone with me, concerned the feeling was going to make her "blah" (she won't call it throwing up or vomit). Needless to say, she refuses to take them again. She does take Meclizine (OTC) for long car rides. We also had a anti-nausea bracelet for her we used in 4th grade when she worried about the bus rides. She used it for only a short while and then stopped because I think she felt it didn't work.

    And yes, she does worry herself into legitimate stomach problems...causing her to need Prilosec for a week or two. It is a horrible cycle and Keista, you hit it on the head by calling it a "chicken and the egg" scenario. I've often wondered myself what came first the worries or the stomach aches. It's probably a bit of both.

    **one positive note -- she didn't fall apart, dissolve into a puddle of tummy issues, following her first 5mg Prozac this morning -- Yay!! She was so worked up about taking it I figured she'd say it hurt her stomach simply because her stomach was already hurting before she took it with the worrying she was doing.(took her about 45 minutes of crying and getting angry and refusal before she finally took it) Hopefully tomorrow she'll take it a little more willingly and it'll get easier day by day...and we'll see her become more of the girl I remember before this all started. (silent prayers)

  5. keista

    keista New Member

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you.

    Now about Prozac and ANY other psychiatric medications you will ever try for her or yourself: Make yourself familiar with the side effects. DO NOT let the lists of side effects scare you, but be familiar with them, and watch for them. There are several on this board that SWEAR by Prozac - it is a godsend for them. I am not one of them. DD1 was on that stuff for far too long only getting worse with her psychiatrist just making new *stupid* diagnosis (essentially he was dxing her side effects GRRRR). Results of any one medication are as individual as..........individuals.

    Support group for anxiety would be great, but I was thinking more specifically for IBS, although that might be tougher to find.

    You can always tell her that you have a bunch of new friends, and some of them have kids with anxiety issues. :)
  6. taj616

    taj616 New Member

    Thank you. It means a lot just to hear from others dealing with similar situations.

    As far as the Prozac goes, I did read over the insert from the pharmacist (as well as reviewed online info) so
    I know what to keep an eye out for. Although reading about the potential side effects of a drug can make a person crazy so I try not to dwell too much on that. At this point, I'll be happy if it does NOT accentuate her tummy issues while working to calm her worries. I'm trying to be positive. A friend of mine has been struggling with her daugther who's now on Zoloft with very good results. I see the side effects for that drug are virtually the same for Prozac...and probably most of the drugs within the same classification, I'm sure.

    We're due back to the psychiatrist for a follow up on the medications in two weeks. I'll keep my fingers crossed for success and be an advocate for my daughter if I feel things aren't working out. It's what I had to do to get my oldest diagnosis when her Crohn's started and it's what I'll do for her until we find a way to conquer her fears and feel "normal" again. Whatever it takes!
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome to the board.

    As a child, I was the queen of phobias. First I was terrified of bandages, then nosebleeds, then around seven years old stomach aches and vomiting. For me medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, helped me stop being so phobic.

    A fear of vomiting is called Emetophio. I found a website just about that fear, what can cause it and what can help a person can over it. You may want to have a look:
  8. taj616

    taj616 New Member

    Very interesting link!
    Thank you Midwest Mom!