Everyone feels anxious from time to time; a feeling of worry, uneasiness, and fear of what may happen in the nearest future. Depending on the situation or possible threat, these feelings of anxiety could be mild or intense.
However, it is nonpersistent, lasting only for a few hours to a few days. A stage performance, a job interview or class presentation, a date or even a phone call can cause anxiety. Sometimes, it happens for no reason. This type of anxiety is normal, even natural in human beings. Normal anxiety is an important feeling in people as it makes people alert in situations of impending danger or change. However, Anxiety disorder is a medical condition; a mental illness that causes people to have feelings of anxiety in excess.
People with anxiety disorders feel overwhelming amounts of fear, worry, uneasiness, and nervousness and these feelings are so persistent in the individuals that they become distracted and tense all the time, unable to function normally. Anxiety disorder interferes with personal lives, academic and extracurricular activities, and relationships with families and friends.
Some teenagers may also turn to substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) when they have an anxiety disorder. A National Institute of Mental Health Statistics shows that about 25% of children and teens between the ages of 13 to 18 have one anxiety disorder or another and up to 6% battle severe anxiety disorder. This disorder may set in a child as young as 3 with symptoms exhibited at age 13 which then goes with the child into adulthood without professional help.
There are several symptoms of Anxiety Disorder and these symptoms differ in each teenager and also depends on the kind of anxiety disorder they have. There are social, emotional and physical symptoms of this disorder in teenagers. These signs of anxiety disorder may include:
• Poor academic performances
• Inability to concentrate
• Nervous shaking
• Intense sweating
• Shortness of breath
• chest pains
• loss of interests
• shaky hands
• tense muscles
• Angry outbursts
• compulsive behaviors
• Panic attacks
The exact causes of anxiety disorders are not known.However, a number of factors could contribute to a teenager’s development ofAnxiety Disorder. Generalized Anxiety Disorder may be caused by environmentaland biological factors. Disruption is the brain’s reaction to some signals or achemical imbalance between the brain’s norepinephrine and serotonin may causeGAD. Anxiety disorders may also be as a result of learned behavior,inheritance, genetics, overactive fight or flight response, or trauma.
With the help of mental health professionals or therapists, it is possible to treat and manage anxiety disorders. However, it is important to engage the help of a professional as soon as some of the symptoms are noticed. The earlier the diagnosis, the earlier the treatment can start and the better. Despite the treatability of this disorder, up to 80% of children and teenagers with diagnosable anxiety disorder do not get treated. A healthcare professional thoroughly assesses and evaluates the teenager’s condition, ruling out other possible health problems and a psychiatrist diagnoses the mental illness.On assessment and evaluation, the mental health professional recommends a combination of treatment plans for the teenager. The combination of the treatment plan may include:
Psychotherapy: This is also called “talk therapy” and it uses several methods to treat the teenager. These methods include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). The professional therapist, using CBT and DBT, teaches the patient to new ways to deal with and manage anxiety in triggering situations. The professional also guides and counsels the teenager, teaching him or her several coping mechanisms and engages in breathing and relaxation exercises.
Prolonged Exposure therapy (PET) where the patient makes a list of things that cause anxiety or fear and learn to deal with them or listen to recordings of themselves recounting their most traumatizing experiences, as well as family therapy, may be used by the professional to treat anxiety disorder.
Psychotherapy may also be used alongside Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat people with an anxiety disorder. SSRIs are medications, usually antidepressants prescribed for treating anxiety disorders in children and young adults.
Medication combined with psychotherapy used for up to 12 weeks has been found to effectively treat teenagers with this disorder. Although they do not substitute for professional healthcare, healthy habits, exercises and engagements that enhance general human wellbeing also a great help with the treatment of anxiety disorder. These habits and exercises may include healthy nutrition, good sleep patterns, meditation, yoga, and effective communication with friends and family.