Recently, a Chicago news station exposed an Internet scam of someone attempting to sell “cures” for a variety of anxiety disorders, as well as a program on helping parents raise anxiety-free children. The offer of anxiety treatment was apparently backed by medical and clinical professionals, according to the website. However, the news station revealed that these were bogus names. There were many other sketchy details about the product being sold as well as the marketing ploys used to sell it.
At the same time, the site looks professional. There are enough testimonials, convincing images, and pieces of information that might lure a parent into purchasing the so-called cure for teen anxiety.
First of all, parents should be aware that there is rarely, if ever, a cure for a psychological illness. The mind is a process that needs tending to. Yes, medication can feel like a cure, but the psychological symptoms of anxiety or depression will return once the medication stops. The best “medicine” for mental disorders is often psychotherapy. It’s common for a psychiatrist to also be included in a teen’s treatment plan, meaning that medication might also be prescribed in addition to psychotherapy.
It’s important that parents of anxious or depressed teens find professional treatment, such as a psychologist and/or a psychiatrist. And the benefits of therapy are many. First, psychotherapy can facilitate your teen’s maturity, independence, and autonomy. Teens are caught in between childhood and adulthood. Although they will begin to pull away from their parents, in many ways, they will also cling to them. This is more often the case with teens who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. However, a therapist can help a teen identify behaviors, thoughts, and emotions that keep them stuck and that get in the way of their success.
Psychotherapy can be the venue for explaining why medication, if a teen needs it. A psychologist or therapist can provide a clear explanation of your child’s diagnosis. Most teenagers are opposed to medication. Some don’t want to participate in other forms of treatment, such as group therapy or rehabilitative services. A therapist can assist in outlining the benefits of treatment and facilitate an ongoing open dialogue about these topics.
Lastly, if the relationship between your teen and a therapist is secure, therapy can be a strong source of support when circumstances at home or school get rough. Even if your child does not have a diagnosis and even if he or she does not exhibit any major symptoms of mental illness, this reason alone can be the drive to call a psychotherapist on behalf of your teen.
In fact, this is what happened with one teen who believed that therapy was going to lead to going to the psych ward. She was caught off guard when the psychologist only wanted to talk. He didn’t send her off to some institution, as she thought, and he didn’t talk to her parents behind her back. He was an open and honest source of support. He asked the questions he needed to arrive at a diagnosis, and after he reviewed her symptoms, the severity of her impaired functioning, and the mental health history of her family, she was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). It’s a diagnosis given to those who experience excessive and irrational worry for at least six months. The excessive anxiety interferes with the ability to function and usually consists of extreme anxiety for everyday matters.
You can see that although working with a therapist might take time, that allows for arriving at an appropriate diagnosis and creating the best treatment plan. It’s rare to find a quick cure wit psychological illness. Instead, therapy for teen anxiety can provide an adolescent with the emotional support he or she needs. It’s quite possible that in time, a teen can move on with his or her life and leave teen anxiety behind them.
American Psychological Association (Dec 2010). Red Flags Raised Over Internet-Based Anxiety “Expert”. Retrieved on July 8, 2014 from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/anxiety-internet.aspx
By Robert Hunt