Anxiety Disorders Among Teens

2009-01-27

Anxiety disorders come in a variety of shapes and forms. They may be categorized into the following broad categories: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorders, Phobic Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder.

Researchers have found that the basic temperament of young people may play a role in some childhood and adolescent anxiety disorders. For example, some children tend to be very shy and restrained in unfamiliar situations, a possible sign that they are at risk for developing an anxiety disorder. Research in this area is very complex, because children's fears often change as they age.

Researchers also suggest watching for signs of anxiety disorders when children are between the ages of 6 and 8. During this time, children generally grow less afraid of the dark and imaginary creatures and become more anxious about school performance and social relationships. An excessive amount of anxiety in children this age may be a warning sign for the development of anxiety disorders later in life.

Studies suggest that children or adolescents are more likely to have an anxiety disorder if they have a parent with anxiety disorders. However, the studies do not prove whether the disorders are caused by biology, environment, or both. More data are needed to clarify whether anxiety disorders can be inherited.

Adaa.org lists several treatment options for anxiety disorders. The following are excellent ways to treat anxiety.

Many therapists use a combination of cognitive and behavior therapies, often referred to as CBT. In this type of therapy the patient is actively involved in his or her own recovery, has a sense of control, and learns skills that are useful throughout life. CBT focuses on identifying, understanding, and modifying thinking and behavior patterns. When a person changes thinking and behavior, emotional changes usually follow. Because CBT teaches skills for handling anxiety, patients who learn and practice the skills can use them when needed.

Cognitive Therapy The goal of cognitive therapy is to change unwanted and disturbing thought patterns. The individual examines his or her feelings and learns to separate realistic from unrealistic thoughts.

Behavior Therapy The goal of behavior therapy is to modify and gain control over unwanted behavior. The individual learns to cope with difficult situations, often through controlled exposure to them.

Relaxation

Techniques for relaxing help people develop the ability to cope more effectively with the stresses and physical symptoms that contribute to anxiety. Common techniques are breathing retraining and exercise.

Medication

Medicines can be very useful in the treatment of anxiety disorders, and it is often used in conjunction with one or more therapies above. Sometimes antidepressants or anxiolytics (antianxiety medications) are prescribed to alleviate severe symptoms so that other forms of therapy can be effective. Depending on the person, medication may be either a short-term or long-term treatment option.


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