SSM Health: Recognizing the not-so-obvious signs of stress and anxiety

MADISON, Wis. — Take a normal school year, then add a pandemic on top of that. COVID-19 continues to impact area communities, including our classrooms and quarantining students. This may mean that the school year is already feeling overwhelming for some. SSM Health Family Physician Jason Moen says it’s important that families first know the not-so-obvious signs of stress or anxiety.

“The physical manifestations can really vary by kid, “says Moen. “A lot of kids will have the upset stomachs, diarrhea, and constipation. Emotionally, there may be some outbursts, some irritability that you wouldn’t normally see, or just maybe not really focusing or being able to pay attention. Not staying on track at school would be another one that would happen quite often.”

Another thing to pay attention to are your child’s sleeping habits. Trouble getting to sleep, or frequent waking up in the night are also signs of stress and worry. To combat this, Dr. Moen says the best thing a family can do is openly communicate and to reassure your child. He encourages setting aside a few minutes each night to truly talk about how the day went, and that acknowledging these weird times can act as affirmation.

Our Time for Kids: Recipe for Health team is asking what you want to hear about. Let us know what health topics you’re interested in, or share your family’s health story with us, online at ssmhealth.com/timeforkids.