My 7 Yr Old DD Is Paranoid About Health Issues/her Body That Don't Exist!

Updated on January 04, 2017
J.S. asks from Brooklyn, NY
11 answers

Out of nowhere, my 7 yr old DD started talking about things being wrong in her body/health issues. It's gotten out of control to where she cries and talks about it incessantly. Things like: I'm pregnant, I don't want to have a baby, there are white long hairs growing out of my skin, there are weird bumps in my ears, I'm too skinny- something is wrong with me, my brain isn't working right, I have cancer, my hair is falling out, I can stick my finger into my tooth-it's all mushy there, and on and on. This has been going on for about 1 month now. She has recently gone to both the dentist and doctor and is in perfect health, not even a cavity. Weird thing is that everything seemed great for her when it started, made new friends at school, taking fun vacations, doing well in school, improvement from last year by leaps and bounds. I don't get it. This is causing her so much anxiety she can't enjoy anything anymore bc she said she's "worried all the time." I read online that kids can also develop schizophrenia which scares me to death. There have been no big changes and when I ask if why she thinks these things, she says "she doesn't know." I am going to schedule an appt with a child counselor (our insurance won't cover a psychologist- only social worker) asap. Has anyone ever dealt with this before? Many thanks in advance!

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

You are taking the right steps by taking her to see a counselor, if a psychologist or psychiatrist is needed they can give you recommendations.

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S.L.

answers from Denver on

This sounds like some form of OCD which can include obsessive thoughts. My dd falls into this sometimes too, but she's older. I usually tell her when I hear this coming on. I say things like, "you're starting to fall into obsessive thinking"...."let's just deal with what we know for sure". Or, "if and when that happens, we'll handle it, but if it hasn't happened yet, I don't want to talk about it".
It does seem to help. All the horrible "what if's" can drive them crazy. If they can recognize that they are making problems that aren't there, it helps.
Making new friends can cause anxiety because every new kid has their own personality and they worry about losing friends if they do the wrong thing, etc. So even though things seem good, in her mind they can create anxiety.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

Body image and anxiety are more common than you think. A good friend's daughter went through something similar, more associated with an eating disorder than things like hair growth or cancer. She had had a family tragedy with her other mom dying. She got tremendous results with good counseling and a referral to a children's hospital that put together a great team.

Please don't go on line and decide about things like schizophrenia. You've done the right thing by setting up counseling. A skilled social worker is able to connect with psychologists and psychiatrists as well a pediatric pharmacologists if any of that is indicated. You are not cut off from additional care but probably would just need a referral is more specialized care is indicated. In the short run, stop peppering your daughter with questions because these will likely increase her anxiety. Let an objective and qualified person (rather than a family member) handle this and ask the right questions and give the right responses.

While you are waiting for an appointment, you might ask the social worker's office if there are any guidelines for how you should address or respond to your daughter's questions, and what the things are that you should not say. This will be general in the absence of an introductory session, but it might help in the short run. I'm guessing that they will suggest you not say, "You're fine" or "It isn't happening" but something more along the lines of "Mommy is here for you and we are going to see a special kind of doctor to help you." I wouldn't get into the difference between a physician, a psychologist or a social worker with a 7 year old.

Good luck!

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E.B.

answers from Honolulu on

While you're waiting for the appointment (good decision, as others have said), start a journal.

Just get a regular notebook (plain old paper kind) or legal pad, and use one page per day.

Document: food eaten (be specific; don't write "snack", write "1 apple and one Gogurt" for example), the time food was eaten, time she wakes up and goes to bed, sleep habits, activities, tv watched, how much water or other beverages she drank.

Document: complaints or worries, and actual physical behaviors (did she really stick her finger into her mouth to feel her tooth, or is she just talking about doing it).

Ask her teacher if she expresses any worries or anxious behaviors at school, and how she interacts with the other kids.

And don't google too much. Yes, she might have anxiety. Or she might be repeating what another child at school is telling her.

Has she been to any areas where Lyme disease is prevalent? Could you ask her doctor for Lyme testing, specifically the Lyme co-infections (Babesia, Bartonella)? I'm asking because this is how my daughter's three Lyme co-infections started showing symptoms. She felt things in her brain, heard things in her ears, had panic attacks, anxiety over everything, complaints that her brain wasn't working, weird feelings in her skin, anger, and irrational fears. This started suddenly, and she never had a rash or the flu-like symptoms. She was examined by psychiatrists who thought that perhaps she had schizophrenia but certain things didn't add up. She underwent MRIs for brain lesions, seizures, etc, but everything was normal. She had the regular Western blot test which was negative. It wasn't until we found a Lyme Literate doctor (member of ILADS not IDSA, which is very very critical), who had her red blood cells tested and she tested high positive for three co-infections. After just a month of antibiotics and anti-malarial medications, her psychiatric symptoms were greatly reduced. Because so much time elapsed between when she was infected and when she finally got properly diagnosed, there was damage done, but she no longer has the worst of the anxiety and the weird feelings. The bumps and strange sounds in her ears were actually explained by Babesia - the parasites gather in the inner ears and in the lungs because they like warm wet environments.

I'm not saying this to scare you, but to tell you that there could be a medical explanation, and to encourage you to not give up. You can find a Lyme Literate doctor by going to lymenet.org.

I hope your daughter gets the help she needs.

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N.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Please, PLEASE, call a facility that specializes in children's mental health and that can do an assessment. I looked up for Brooklyn and found New York City Children's Center (NYCC)- Brooklyn Campus. It sounds like they'd be able to do a complete assessment and figure out if there is something going on or not.

SINCE this is acute it seems like it should be addressed right now, not tomorrow or next week. I'd be freaking out to tell you the truth.

Phone: ###-###-####

https://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/facilities/nyccc/bkpc/

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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Your little girl is young and a bit extreme, but this is not uncommon. Sounds like health anxiety. So glad you are having her talk to someone. I've heard that children respond much better and quicker than adults to therapy. She is probably a very smart and sensitive kid, and unfortunately, these traits lend themselves to anxiety. Keep up with the therapist' s recommendations and she will be fine.

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R.A.

answers from Boston on

Added: I apologize.. I read your first statement too fast.. if this is occurring out of nowhere, then I would suggest calling her doctor. It could be a viral/bacterial infection.

Body dysmorphia is a anxiety induced disease in which people focus on their body and it's flaws. Often sighting irrational or delusional thoughts about it. It is quite recurrent and can be a fixation or obsession to which that is all they can think or process.. do I think your daughter has this? I don't know, but im glad you are taking her to a psychologist.. how about at school? Do her teachers mention this behavior there?

I wouldn't try and guess what is wrong with her, and it could quite well be hormones. I remember having a irrational fear that I would never see my mom again every time I left on the bus to go to school. I'd see her waving goodbye and I would lose it. I was in fourth grade at the time..

I would take your daughters fears to heart though, and reassure her in each of her concerns. If it helps find a visual image of what she is fearing and show her that she does not have it. Or distract her from the fixation. Talk about something she enjoys..

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

You had mentioned your daughter had social anxiety in your last post. I am guessing this is another form of anxiety that you're seeing.

My friend's daughter had similar fears. She had anxiety. She went to a therapist and mom went too. She was able to overcome it.

My daughter had anxiety around the same age. She joined a little empowerment group for anxious kids. It really helped. They learned coping strategies and how to be empowered so that they could feel more confident essentially in dealing with situations and new things. The kids in it all had different types of anxieties. It was very helpful.

I won't go into specifics but our child developed ways to relax and let the fear go, we came up with her own personalized plan on how to handle anxiety. We as a family had our own exercises to do. Was really helpful.

I think the counselor will really be helpful. I would suggest not looking stuff up on the internet. To me this sounds more like anxiety than anything else, but a counselor will know.

Best to you

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J.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

Since it came on so suddenly I would rule out a physical cause like strep throat. Google 'strep and PANDAS'.

I know 2 kids this happened to and their anxiety and OCD symptoms disappeared after a dose of antibiotics.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

i have no clue what triggered this, but i suggest you a) don't try to diagnose it on the internet and b) don't try to 'reason' her out of it.
this isn't a rational thing. something has triggered it.
get her into a professional as soon as possible.
khairete
S.

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M.6.

answers from New York on

It would be extremely unusual for a child that young to be schizophrenic and even more unlikely for it to come out of the blue like that (our son has disorganized schizophrenia). Not to say that there isn't a mental health condition involved, but I would definitely stay off the internet looking for a diagnosis and listen to a health professional. Another way to get help would be to make an appointment (again) with her primary and get a referral to someone your primary trusts. Also, start video taping and writing down what is going on. That was the most valuable tool when getting our son diagnosed.

Good luck!

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