Teen anxiety is an expression commonly used to describe any type of anxiety disorder in teenagers.
Important thing to know is that there is no such diagnosis as “teen anxiety”.
Teenagers can suffer from phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or some other type of anxiety all of which are very different one from another. However what they all have in common is their teen age. Thus the term teen depression is used.
What causes anxiety in teenagers?
Teenage anxiety can be caused by traumatic events such as divorce of parents or sexual abuse, alcohol or drug abuse, interpersonal problems, etc.
Teenagers are very sensitive and fragile. This means that any turbulence in their lives can affect them greatly. Adolescence itself is the most turbulent period of life which is the main reason why teenagers are so sensitive and vulnerable.
During the adolescence, teenager’s body changes dramatically together with their way of thinking and perceiving. In other words teenager becomes, in part, different person than he or she used to be before hormones started kicking in. This change causes many crises that are typical and normal for this period of life.
In short, teenagers are usually unstable and immature (which is normal) and that instability makes them an easy target for mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder) and anxiety disorders.
If one observes teenagers closely the conclusion that majority of teenagers have depression or anxiety can be drawn. This however is not true. If the observer is aware of the fact that adolescence is by definition an unstable and turbulent period of life, the depressive or anxious behavior of teenagers would be perceived as normal teenage reaction to stress.
One important thing to know is that only a health care professional can diagnose a teenager with anxiety or other mental disorder. In other words parents should never diagnose their child with teenage anxiety or depression. If parents suspect their child to suffer from teen anxiety they should have their teenager examined and tested by psychologist.
What are the signs of teen anxiety?
Dramatic mood swings
Dramatic change in appetite
Dramatic weight gain or weight loss
Loss of interest
Avoidance of certain situation, objects or persons
Refusing to separate from parent
Waking up in a panic attack
Always in need to do something
What are the symptoms of teen anxiety?
Fear of passing out
Fear of going crazy
Thinking there is no way out
Recurrent or obsessive thoughts
Tendency to predict the worst
Fear of being in public
Fear of death
Constant negative thinking
How to treat teenage anxiety?
Teen anxiety is best treated with psychotherapy alone or combined with medication when necessary. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has a lot of success in treating teenage anxiety as well as depression and other mental disorder in teenagers.
In psychotherapy teenager that suffers from anxiety are provided, among other things, with coping tools, understanding, guidance and support all of are necessary for successful treatment.
Family therapy is strongly recommended when teenager suffers from anxiety or other mental disorder, because parents can play an important role in their child’s treatment. For this to happen, however, they need to know how to help their child and the things they should and should not do in specific situations. Good intentions are not enough!
Medication should be used only when necessary and in the exact way as prescribed. Any misuse or abuse of anxiety or depression medication can be contra productive and even fatal.
Common example of anxiety medication misuse is taking it - off and on. This is very contra productive and should be avoided. Mixing alcohol with anxiety medication is unfortunately another common example of anxiety and depression medication misuse and it can be fatal.
What is the prognosis for teenage anxiety?
Prognosis for teen anxiety is very optimistic provided that teenager is treated appropriately for his or her anxiety disorder. This means that teenager that suffers from anxiety needs to be in psychotherapy and that his parents should be in family therapy. With this holistic psychotherapeutic approach chances for teenager to get better and cured are very high.