One of the most common anxiety disorders among adolescents is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). It’s a diagnosis given to those teens who experience excessive and irrational worry for at least six months. It might be natural to experience anxiety right before an exam or if you’re about to go on a date. But excessive anxiety is often persistent and seems to come on without an associated trigger. Its symptoms, such as a racing heart, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, shaking, sweating palms, and feeling hot, might suddenly come out of nowhere.
As you can imagine, an anxiety disorder can interfere with the ability to function at school, have healthy friendships, and usually consists of extreme worry even for everyday matters. Other forms of anxiety disorders among teens include Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Phobias.
If you suspect that you might have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or if you’ve been diagnosed with the illness, you should know how this illness is treated. Typically, anxiety is treated with some form of medication to relieve you of the symptoms as well as therapy to address the underlying issues. Types of medication for teen anxiety include anti-anxiety medication, such as benzodiazepines. They include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin. The risk with Benzodiazepines, however, is that they are highly addictive and have severe withdrawal symptoms. Of course, any teen taking psychotropic medication, whether anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, should be closely monitored, especially at the beginning of treatment. Another form of medication used to treat teen anxiety is antidepressants. These drugs can be used to treat both depression, as well as anxiety disorders.
As mentioned above, an essential part of treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder is psychotherapy. Psychotherapy can be useful because it can provide you with coping tools to use when your anxiety gets challenging. For instance, instead of reaching for marijuana or a drink when feeling nervous or anxious, you might instead take a moment to recognize your feelings and not let it get the best of you. In the same way, instead of jumping into a car with friends who have been drinking because of feeling disappointed, for example, you might stop for a moment and rethink your decision. In an extreme example, if you were feeling depressed and you were about to take your life, you might call for help instead.
Anxiety may be associated with a precipitating event, such as a death of a friend or family member. Although, anxiety might also begin spontaneously, with some of its symptoms appearing before a full onset of the disorder. Generalized Anxiety Disorder might range from mild to severe symptoms, escalating to the point that they become disruptive in a teen’s life, including affecting his or her ability to function at school or work . For instance, it’s quite possible that symptoms may be chronic and long lasting.
It’s quite possible that symptoms become such an interference in a teen’s life that the it requires professional intervention such as the help of a therapist or psychologist. In fact, symptoms may get in the way of being able to enjoy activities with peers.
Although anxiety may lead to long term negative outcomes, such as social isolation, low self esteem, lack of independence, depression, or substance abuse, as the title of this article suggests, anxiety doesn’t have to be debilitating. Symptoms of anxiety may get better with the right amount of support – friends, family, counseling, psychotherapy, support group, and medication. Furthermore, having a practice of yoga, meditation, and/or journaling can help facilitate healing from anxiety. All of these interventions can create a lasting change and help with minimizing the debilitating effects of teen anxiety.