This three part series on teen phobias is an exploration of their types, symptoms, and treatment. In the last article, the second part of this series, the emotional, psychological, and physical signs of phobias were listed as well. That article also specifically examined Agoraphobia, fear of enclosed spaces, and Trypanophobia, fear of injury and medical needles. If you suspect that your teen has a phobia, and more importantly, you suspect that his or her symptoms are getting in the way of succeeding at home, school, or work, then it would be worthwhile to seek treatment. For more information and symptoms of teen phobias, visit the site here. The following are common ways to treat phobias:
- Exposure Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Relaxation Techniques
This type of therapy would invite a teen to gradually face his or her fear in a controlled and safe environment. Doing so would give him or her the chance to monitor internal responses to what triggers the fear while using healthy coping mechanisms. The point is that over time the distressful physiological responses to that trigger slowly go away. Eventually, a teen learns that the particular situation, person, or thing is not harmful. Instead he or she develops a sense of control over that fear.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This therapy explores the specific thoughts or beliefs that trigger panic-like symptoms. It is opinion that this is the most effective form of therapy for this disorder. Essentially, the specific thought that provokes panic in a particular situation is to examine and to replace with a healthier thought. For example, if adolescents have a repeating thought that they are going to humiliate themselves in public. As a result, miss school more frequently than they should, an alternative thought might be, “No matter what I say or do, my friends accept me for who I am.” Cognitive Behavioral Therapy aims to find alternative thoughts that are self-affirming, accepting, and realistic. Another thought that can replace a negative, unhealthy one is, “I’ve felt this way before and nothing terrible happened.” This alternative is realistic and supportive.
The psychotropic medications used to treat phobias are anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, or Benzodiazepines. Although antidepressants are incredibly effective, they do come with risks for teens. They can cause suicidal thoughts and even attempts at suicide. Nonetheless, this medication has also been incredibly successful. For this reason, it might be the best treatment choice; however, keep this risk in mind when you are communicating with your teen’s psychiatrist.
Anti-anxiety medications are also very successful as a treatment method. This medication works very quickly. For example, taking anti-anxiety medication while experiencing symptoms of panic can rapidly bring relief. 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.
When your child is experiencing symptoms of anxiety and panic, the body responds in an excited and heightened way. Review the list of symptoms in the second article of this series. For example, and you’ll see physiological and emotional changes that reflect a body and mind that is under stress.
However, breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and meditation can facilitate a sense of ease when fear and panic feel like they are going to take over. For instance, feeling fear is usually accompanied by shallow breathing. If an adolescent were to become conscious of his or her breathing right in the middle of feeling panic, make them breath long and deep, this could shift his or her physiological state. Over time, the fearful responses that certain places, people, or things trigger may lessen in intensity and eventually no longer have the effect they once did.
Furthermore, your child can practice this type of breathing anytime. If anxiety is present or not. And in this way, it could become a resource when panic strikes. Anything that you or your teen learns about phobias can also facilitate finding the freedom from phobias that will create an easier, more relaxed life. A number of resources exist to support adolescents in functioning with success at home, school, and work.