Anxiety is a universal human emotion that we all face at one point or another. However, for many teenagers and young adults, anxiety is a regular and debilitating occurrence. Without professional treatment, teens and young adults with an anxiety disorder may experience intense and uncontrollable feelings of worry that disrupt daily life and damage their self-esteem, academic performance, and relationships.
Anxiety disorders occur frequently in all age groups, but teenagers and young adults are especially prone to the condition. This is why professional anxiety treatment centers are so necessary. Fortunately, Paradigm Treatment offers young adult and teen anxiety treatment.
Signs of Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety can lead to a host of mental and emotional symptoms. Some of the symptoms of anxiety include the following:
- Severe, uncontrollable, persistent feelings of worry that intrude on one’s ability to concentrate on other tasks
- Frequent irritability or agitation, particularly when an individual sees their frustration as irrational or disproportionate to the incident which caused it
- A sense of restlessness, where one feels unable to relax
- A feeling that one is in danger or will experience danger or doom in the future
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks to an abnormal degree
- The presence of new and irrational fears, which may constitute phobias
Anxiety disorder is more than just a feeling or an emotional experience. In addition to the mental toll an anxiety disorder can take on an individual, it can also have pronounced physical and behavioral effects. These may be subtle and not interfere with one’s regular functioning. They are often impossible to ignore and completely debilitating in the case of more severe anxiety and panic disorders.
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Some of the physical symptoms of anxiety disorders include the following:
- An elevated or pounding heart rate
- Stomach issues
- Shortness of breath
- Tension in one’s muscles
- Rapid breathing in the case of anxiety or panic attacks
- Sleep issues
Some of the behavioral symptoms of anxiety might include:
- Avoidant behavior, such as a withdrawal from socialization, school, work, or previously enjoyed activities
- Irritability in the form of a short temper
- Panic attacks in which an individual feels intense fear, experiences physical manifestations of that fear (such as shaking, shortness of breath, or an elevated heart rate), and may believe they are suffering from a medical episode, such as a heart attack
- Changes in appetite
- Excessive sleep, or a notable lack of sleep due to difficulty falling or staying asleep
Anxiety disorder can bring about many complex mental health struggles. It may present differently in everyone. It is worth noting that many symptoms of anxiety are shared with other physical and mental health disorders, so parents should be sure to monitor and communicate with their teenager if they suspect anxiety to be present.
While the term “anxiety” usually refers to generalized anxiety disorder, it can also be used as an umbrella term for a number of separate but related mental health conditions. These include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder: This is the most common form of anxiety disorder and is characterized by consistent, difficult-to-control feelings of worry which occur more days than not for 6 months or longer.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): is characterized by excessive thoughts that lead to the development of repetitive behaviors. The excessive thoughts are known as “obsessions” and the repetitive behaviors are called “compulsions”.
- Panic disorder: This disorder is characterized by bouts of intense fear and panic which are accompanied by strong physical reactions.
- Social anxiety disorder or social phobia: Social anxiety is characterized by fear, worry, self-consciousness, and withdrawal from certain social situations and interactions.
Anxiety disorders can often have biological causes. For instance, anxiety disorders can run in families. They may also result from physical conditions, like hyperthyroidism or heart issues.
Traumatic or difficult life events and other underlying mental health issues can also contribute to the formation of anxiety. People with certain personality types may be at greater risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Chronic stress and drug and alcohol abuse are other risk factors.
Knowing how to help young adults with anxiety can be difficult. But if you believe your child may be struggling with anxiety symptoms, it may be time to discuss professional treatment.
Since young people may be hesitant about receiving treatment, parents can focus on communicating what anxiety is, how to recognize it, and what treatment modalities exist to help them cope with it.
Giving your teen or young adult an idea of how treatment works, and communicating your willingness to take their concerns seriously can break through common barriers and misconceptions that keep teens from asking for help. With this awareness, you and your teen can get into a deeper discussion of what the causes of their anxiety are and how to address them with various professional treatment options.
Teen anxiety treatment can take different forms depending on the type of disorder one has, along with its severity and causes. Broadly, interventions can take the form of therapy, medication, or lifestyle modifications.
Many people may choose to opt for therapy as a go-to treatment, and only consider medication when more help is necessary. Others may choose to begin on medication immediately in more serious cases.
There are many evidence-based therapy approaches that can help treat anxiety. Regardless of the methodology used, the goal of therapy is to address anxiety and other mental health challenges by exploring the situations and thoughts that precede them and learning new coping strategies and techniques for responding in a healthy way. Some of the most common therapeutic forms used to address anxiety include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT identifies the mental and emotional processes behind anxiety and similar mental health conditions. It helps individuals learn the situations that provoke their anxious thoughts or feelings, as well as the kinds of anxious feelings and thoughts that occur frequently. They then begin to replace these self-limiting and anxious thinking patterns with new, positive beliefs that enable positive action. CBT for anxiety may also include exposure therapy.
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: This is a variation of CBT. Anxiety is often compared to a “runaway train” where one thought or trigger can lead one down a long chain of what-if scenarios. The goal of mindfulness is to develop an awareness of one’s bodily and emotional responses to experiences. By doing so, teens and young adults who suffer from anxiety can change their relationship to anxious thoughts, avoid falling into the traps of anxious thinking, and accept challenging feelings and emotions.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT teaches individuals how to regulate their emotions with distress tolerance skills. It also encourages the development of healthy coping strategies to deal with anxious feelings.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT is about accepting and recognizing thoughts and feelings as they are using mindfulness. The goal is less about avoiding or “defeating” anxious thoughts and feelings, and more about focusing on mindful behavior and acting in accordance with one’s values. A focus on mindfulness and action naturally reduces anxiety and makes one better equipped to deal with anxiety when it does arise.
Group therapy and family therapy can also be helpful for those suffering from teen anxiety. These therapeutic approaches can help young adults understand that they are not alone.
We offer 4 individual therapy sessions per week for our residents. These weekly therapy sessions help our young clients identify unhealthy coping mechanisms and replace them with healthy coping skills. Healthy coping mechanisms enable individuals to address things like low self-esteem, excessive worry, specific phobias, extreme fear, underlying trauma, and more.
“Triggers” are thoughts, events, or situations that bring up feelings of anxiety. Learning to recognize one’s anxiety triggers is an important step in understanding the sources of anxiety and how to address them. This is often an important part of managing anxiety.
Medication for Addressing Anxiety
There are many types of medications that can help reduce anxiety symptoms. The most common class of these are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These include drugs like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. Benzodiazepines, like Xanax or Valium, can also address anxiety. However, they are taken on a more as-needed basis rather than daily like SSRIs due to their high potential for abuse. All medications carry potential side effects, and as such should only be prescribed after consultation with a medical professional.
Lifestyle modifications are likely not enough on their own to treat an anxiety disorder, but they can certainly help. Exercise, healthy nutrition, the maintenance of a regular sleep schedule, and the development of positive coping strategies like mindfulness, journaling, or meditation can all help those dealing with teenage anxiety.
Residential treatment for anxiety in teens and young adults can provide a safe and supportive therapeutic environment away from home. When conducted properly, a residential mental health program offers an intensive level of individualized care and peer support which is not achievable at home. It also provides teens and young adults with the time and space to focus solely on tackling their mental health challenges.
A residential treatment program can be a great solution if your teen or young adult’s home environment is stressful or otherwise limiting to their growth, or if other treatment options have not been effective. Our residential teen anxiety treatment center offers young people a safe space to develop anxiety management skills. It helps young individuals gain the support they need to move forward.
Paradigm Treatment offers individualized treatment for teens and young adults facing anxiety and other co-occurring disorders in our intensive treatment plans. Unique in offering daily individual therapy, our programs also incorporate group and family therapies, appropriate medications, a tight-knit and encouraging social environment, and a host of experiential therapies to address anxiety.
A significant barrier to an anxiety treatment program can be a lack of knowledge of the condition or a misunderstanding of how it may be treated. To address common questions and sources of worry or hesitation, we offer residents and their families Psycho-Educational Services. These services present the facts about given conditions and their treatment program options. When clients and their families better understand the mental health or substance abuse challenges they experience, they feel less alone and can more easily engage in the treatment process and work towards solutions.
With a small staff-to-client ratio, evidence-based care practices, and a strong focus on treatment tailored to the needs of the individual, the experienced and caring team at Paradigm will help your teen address their anxiety and co-occurring mental health disorders to achieve personal growth and success in all areas of life.
Learn more about how our anxiety treatment program can help your family today. We look forward to helping your young loved one deal with anxiety and live in wholeness and health!