Help for the Anxious Child with Dr. Andy Farah (Pedcast)


Good day, and welcome to my pediatric blog. Portable, practical pediatrics is our mission. I am Dr. Paul Smolen, a genuine, board certified pediatrician with now 32 years of practice. I am very excited to have as my returning guest today Dr. Andy Farah, a practicing psychiatrist, Chief of Psychiatry at High Point Hospital, and expert in psychopharmacology to educate my listeners and me on an important subject for parents… how to recognize and help the overly anxious child. Dr. Farah practices psychiatry in High Point, NC and sees a variety of psychiatric illness everyday including anxious children. Welcome Dr. Andy Farah.

1. Dr. Farah, would you give us an idea of the scope of the problem please.  Seems to me there are a lot of anxious kids out there.

Yes, I am an adult psychiatrist but I do see some young people- about 10%- anxious people is about 20% of my practice

Doc Smo: Anxiety today is the equivalent of measles to our grandmother’s generation.  Common.



2. How does a parent recognize anxiety in their child? (physical symptoms, functional impairment,  etc)


-Sleep problems

-Difficulty with concentration

-School avoidance

-Irritable bowel

-Cyclic vomiting

-The child with loads of physical complaints- somaticizers


-DocSmo: Most common clues for me are sleep problems as well as chronic headaches and stomachaches. I also see a lot of children with lightheadedness from hyperventilation. Children who pick at their skin…think anxiety. An older child who can’t swallow a pill, think anxiety. (Story)


3. Very few children have access to a psychiatrist. Are there things that can be done, short of psychopharmacology, to help children with anxiety?

-First, realize that anxiety comes in a spectrum of severity… mild to severe. Severe may require a psychiatrist and medicines.

-For milder anxious kids, here are some things you can try:

         -Exercise: very effective

         -Good sleep ritual, reducing stimulation in PM

         -Healthy nutrition including fish

         -Talk and listen; they may have reason to worry!

-For those children with a little more impairment, here are some OTC and mild Rx things that can help:

         -N acetyl cysteine dose   OCD

         -B Vitamins

         -Rx Hydroxyzine/ Periactin-cheap

-New prescription FOOD that can help and not harm–Vayarin–explain


4.  Do you think digital technology is adding to the level of stress for children today?

-Absolutely: TVs and other screens are very stimulating, that’s why we all like them…including children

-Need to turn the brain off: all organs need rest, including our brains


5.  Other issues you would like to discuss in relation to anxiety in children?

-I see a lot of addicted young people…addicted to terrible drugs…nice people

-I think a lot of them got there because they couldn’t deal with their own anxiety…drugs were easy. Drugs turn off anxiety.

-Take anxiety seriously if you see it being a problem in your child:

         -Talk and listen

         -Help them cope

         -Get help if you need to

         -Reduce stress whenever possible




Dr. Andy Farah, thank you again for sharing your wisdom and experience with my listeners and me. We always benefit from your insights. Please come back and make some more pedcasts, won’t you? This is Dr. Andy Farah and Doc Smo, hoping that all parents will hurry, to help soothe their children’s worry. Until next time.

Smo Notes:

1. N Acetyl Cysteine- A review article- 

2. 10 Ways to improve depression and anxiety without meds,