This is a two part series on what teens can do to facilitate their own healing from Panic Disorder. In the first article, a description of teen Panic Disorder was provided as well as the first essential task to self-healing. That first task is education – educating yourself on what Panic Disorder is, how it develops, and ways that you can untangle the knots of anxiety that create panic attacks in the first place. The second essential task is to practice.
There are two practices that can facilitate healing – meditation and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Both of these practices you can do with a therapist. However, once you learn them, you can do them on your own as well.
Meditation – Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation can create a psychological state that can invite solutions you might not have otherwise thought of. When the mind and body are relaxed, your inner resources are more easily accessible. In this state, you might see your situation differently. An answer to your problem might come forward or an insight might arise that allows you to see a stressful situation differently.
One way to relax the mind is through meditation. Now, there are many forms of meditation and you might need to find the method that is best for you. You can use guided imagery which takes you to various imagined peaceful places or you can meditate using a point of focus. Both can have healing and relaxing effects.
Finally, deep breathing can be an essential tool, particularly right in those intense moments that might otherwise lead to cutting or self-harm. Helping your child develop the habit of breathing instead of cutting can be the practice that eliminates self-harm altogether.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy essentially aims to change behavior by identifying negative and distorted thinking patterns. This successful form of therapy emphasizes the link between thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and more importantly, it attempts to identify the way that certain thoughts contribute to the unique problems of an adolescent’s life. By changing the thought pattern, both feelings and behavior change, which can result in a transformed life. It is common for a CBT therapist to use a tool called a Thought Diary, which is a way to document anxious thoughts and the result of those thoughts.
If you’re a teen ready to participate in your own healing, you’ll find that a therapist will dramatically facilitate your use of CBT. In fact, you may want to learn about CBT with a therapist first, and then take it home with you. There, you can use a Thought Diary to document your thoughts and learn which ones are triggering your attacks and which ones are keeping them going.
At the same time, while you’re in therapy, you might want to get on medication, even if it’s for a brief period of time so that you can return to normal functioning. Medication for treating anxiety disorders often includes anti-anxiety medication and even anti-depressants. Although antidepressants are incredibly effective, they do come with risks. For teens in particular, it is essential to know that anti-depressants can cause suicidal thoughts and even attempts at suicide. Of course, anyone taking psychotropic medication should be closely monitored, especially at the beginning of treatment.
As already mentioned, psychotherapy, sometimes known as “talk therapy”, might include CBT. This form of therapy can be particularly effective because it will invite you to closely examine thoughts and related behaviors, as well as reactions to certain situations. This can help unravel the anxiety inside by untangling the mess of thoughts and feelings.
With both your participation and working with a therapist, perhaps your level of anxiety might return to a level that is not just manageable, but absent.