One of the most common problems affecting teenagers today is anxiety disorders. These conditions are hindering enjoyment of daily activities, and most parents are simply unable to understand what is going on. There are treatments available for these anxiety disorders, but first one must understand what it is, and how it affects teens differently.
Overview of Anxiety Disorders in Teens
Anxiety disorders among teenagers are on the rise. According to Dr. Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D, it’s definitely one of the common concerns of parents nowadays. Teenagers are as susceptible to the pressures of school, cultures, and home lives as anyone is. The more common anxiety disorders are classified as:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Separation anxiety
- Various phobias
The problem comes in how a teenager deals with the pressures that cause anxiety disorders. Often teen anxiety disorder will couple with drug abuse, phobias, and even mental health issues such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is presenting a very real, serious danger to youth.
Common Symptoms Related to Anxiety Disorders
There are signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders that a parent needs to be aware of. Whatever adults might think is “difficult” to deal with may be completely overwhelming to a teen, especially to one who continually has to deal with stressful situations. Some of the most common physical symptoms include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Sleep problems
- Strange eating habits
Parents can begin helping a struggling teen by being aware of what is going on in his life. Try to keep an open line of communication with him, so he doesn’t need to keep things bottled up inside.
Treatment Options for Anxiety Disorders
There are many treatment options available today. The first step is to speak with a family physician before starting any treatment program. Drugs can have awkward side effects, and different teens can adversely react to some of the pharmaceutical options available. Here are a few of the possible treatment programs that are frequently used today.
Teen Anxiety Disorder Medication
Cortisol is a powerful stress hormone, and when coupled with psychiatric and physical symptoms, has caused many teenagers and parents to try some of the mood altering drugs that are available today. Xanax, Librium, and Valium all fall into this class of psychiatric drugs. There are many side effects to these medications and other risks as well. While there are many teenagers that can benefit from this type of medication, others might benefit from therapy, counseling, and even homeopathic remedies.
If a teen is started on a mood altering drug therapy, a parent should watch out for common side effects, including:
- Panic attacks
- Sleep disorders
- Weight loss
- Muscle cramping
Contact a physician immediately, if any of the above situations occur. A parent should also be sure the medication is not abused by personally overseeing dosages.
Therapy and Counseling for Anxiety Disorders
While some teenagers may not want to participate in counseling, it can often help the anxiety disorder. While it’s not guaranteed to “cure” anyone, it will at least provide some coping techniques. Sometimes, this can be all a teenager needs to start living a life with less anxiety. However, it’s imperative that a parent seek further help for the teen, if there are no noticeable improvements.
Homeopathic Remedies for Anxiety Disorders
There are a lot of different herbal supplements that can help with the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. St. John’s Wort is often helpful in treating depression like symptoms, while rosemary and ginseng have also had positive results.
The good thing about these supplements, according to Robin Pendelton, is that there are often far less side effects than those incurred from psychiatric medications . It should be noted, however, that there is some controversy over the safety and efficacy of using homeopathic remedies for anxiety disorders, so get the okay by the family physician before proceeding to give them to a teenager.
Teenagers must not be treated as adults when it comes to an anxiety disorder. While the teen may think of himself as an adult, he has not completely developed the tools needed to cope with what this condition may throw his way. Only through a complete treatment program can a teenager start to experience relief. It’s essential that a parent speak with a physician about the treatment options before deciding which is best for a teen.
Note: This article is not intended to be explicit medical advice, but only an informational piece. If you suspect your teen is suffering from anxiety disorder, contact your family physician immediately for direct medical advice.