You and your teen should know that when anxiety begins to get in the way of life, then it’s time to get help from a mental health professional. Without the proper help, your teen may be vulnerable to the following when anxiety feels intense:
- ability to function at school
- have healthy friendships
- extreme worry even for everyday matters
- drug use(abuse) including Xanax and Valium to calm down on their own
Regarding drug use among teens, approximately, 60-75% of teens who abuse drugs or alcohol also have a mental illness. Among adolescents who have not used substances before, the incidences of first time drug use is higher among those who have experienced mental illness than those who have not.
If you suspect that your teen has an Anxiety Disorder and if you call for professional assistance, you may want to know how anxiety is treated. First, it’s important to remember that there are various types of anxiety disorder, and treatment may depend on the illness that your teen has. However, typically, anxiety is treated with some form of medication to relieve you of the symptoms as well as therapy to address the underlying issues.
Medication: Types of medication for teen anxiety include anti-anxiety medication, such as benzodiazepines. 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. These drugs can be used to treat both depression, as well as anxiety disorders.
Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy can be useful because it can provide your teen with coping tools to use when anxiety gets challenging. For instance, instead of reaching for marijuana or a drink when feeling nervous or anxious, your teen might instead take a moment to recognize their feelings and not let it get the best of them. In the same way, instead of jumping into a car with friends who have been drinking because of feeling disappointed, for example, your teen might stop for a moment and rethink their decision. In an extreme example, if your teen were feeling depressed and were about to take their life, they might call for help instead.
If not treated properly, anxiety can lead to long-term negative outcomes, such as social isolation, low self esteem, lack of independence, depression, or substance abuse, as mentioned earlier. Yet, anxiety doesn’t have to get to this point. With help, symptoms of anxiety can get better. With the right amount of support – friends, family, counseling, psychotherapy, support group, and medication. Furthermore, having a practice of relaxation tools, such as yoga, meditation, and/or journaling can help facilitate healing from anxiety. All of these methods can create a lasting change and help with minimizing the debilitating effects of teen anxiety. However, it’s important that parents and caregivers reach out for support when they see their teen struggling with symptoms of anxiety.