Kids still stressed two years after quakes

Christchurch children are still suffering from anxiety two years after the earthquakes, a new study concludes.

Now, researchers at the University of Canterbury are looking at how vitamins and minerals can help treat psychological and psychiatric symptoms, including stress, mood and ADHD.

It's believed to be the first study in the world looking at micronutrients and anxiety in children.

While some children remain anxious or worried about earthquakes in particular, for others the events triggered worries about other things, says researcher Ellen Sole.

"The issue for a number of children experiencing anxiety is that the range of symptoms of anxiety can widely interfere with their development. This includes affecting friendships, school performance and a child's happiness," she said.

"Many anxious children will have difficulties sleeping. Combining this with worries and the other difficulties anxiety can have puts a large strain on the family, sometimes negatively affecting family life."

The masters student and trainee clinical psychologist's study is looking at whether micronutrients can help Canterbury children aged eight to 11 years who are struggling with anxiety.

Common symptoms of anxiety in children include sweating, feelings of choking or dizziness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, being easily startled, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, stomach aches, body aches and tiredness as well as behavioural symptoms including clinginess, tantrums, withdrawing from friends and family, avoidance of places or objects, not wanting to go to school, shyness and perfectionism.

Now, Ms Sole is appealing for "a small number" of children who would be willing to try the vitamins and minerals for approximately two months.

"Certainly Christchurch children have had to cope with much more than a lot of children do, so we would expect that some of these children will struggle," she said.

"While there are good psychological treatments for anxiety, it is always good to have more options available for treatment. This research hopes to provide more evidence to assist with clinical decisions."


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