If your teen is suffering from anxiety, you probably know that it can be incredibly debilitating. You may want to take your teen to a psychiatrist to help relieve some of those devastating symptoms, but here are a few things you should know.
Anti-anxiety medication, also known as anxiolytics, treat anxiety by slowing down the central nervous system. In low doses, they can also be used to help a teen manage situational stress, such as experiencing anxiety when in small spaces. Anti-anxiety medications are also very successful as a treatment method because they can work very quickly. For example, taking medication while experiencing symptoms of panic can rapidly bring relief.
However, it’s important to know that medication alone is not a safe way to treat mental illness. In some cases, such as anxiety, it’s always safer to treat the underlying causes, in addition to taking medication. The anti-anxiety medication can provide a relief of debilitating symptoms, but those symptoms, if the underlying causes are not addressed, will return in full swing once you stop taking what you’ve been prescribed.
In fact, for most diagnoses, research indicates that the combination of both medication and therapy yields the best treatment results. Medication combined with a form of therapy that can begin to address the underlying issues has proven to be the most effective with psychological disorders such as anxiety. This combination has also been effective in treating depression, bipolar disorder, and other forms of psychological illness.
Benzodiazepines are the most common class of anti-anxiety drugs. 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. They can be used to treat both depression, from moderate to severe, as well as anxiety disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
However, for teens in particular, it is essential to know that anti-depressants can cause suicidal thoughts and even attempts at suicide. For this reason, close communication with a psychiatrist as well as observation of your child is essential while he or she is using this type of medication. At the same time, medication has also been incredibly successful. For this reason, it might be the best treatment choice for your teen. However, keep the risks in mind when you are communicating with your teen’s psychiatrist.
Another option is to dismiss anti-anxiety medication altogether.
When your teen is experiencing symptoms of anxiety and panic, the body responds in an excited and heightened way. He or she will see physiological and emotional changes that reflect a body and mind that is stressed. If a teen is willing, he or she could engage in activities and practices that could relax the body and mind. Instead of relying on medication, you might try breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and meditation.
These activities 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 anxiety, making the 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 teen can practice this type of breathing anytime, whether anxiety is present or not. In this way, deep breathing could become a resource when panic strikes. Finally, listening to calming music, yoga, guided imagery, and meditation can become regular practices to ease anxiety over time.
Of course, choosing to take medication can be a decision that is made between you, your teen, and your doctor. However, knowing that you don’t have to take medication to treat teen anxiety might bring a sense of relief. As long as the underlying issues are being