Teenage anxiety treatment – as with any adolescent emotional disturbance – usually requires a combination of interventions. Teen anxiety disorders do not refer to normal feelings of fear or worry. Anxiety disorders involves are a series of psychiatric conditions that feature irrational and uncontrollable fears, from specific phobias to panic attacks, social anxieties, post-traumatic stress, and more.

Generalized anxiety and social anxiety disorders are the two most common, with an estimated lifetime prevalence among children and adolescents ranging from 15 to 20 percent. Agoraphobia and panic disorders are less frequent. The mechanisms behind why teenage anxiety occurs is not completely understood.

Most research points towards a mix of both nature and nurture – anxiety disorders are at least partially hereditary, and certain environmental factors can exacerbate them and lead to early onset, including chronic or severe stress, a traumatic experience, substance use, and more.

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Teens

The defining sign of an anxiety disorder is continued fear and panic in the absence of any relevant stimuli. Teens with anxiety disorders are likely to worry excessively and paralyze themselves with fear over things that haven’t happened, are unlikely to happen, or are not happening right now. Specific symptoms exist for specific disorders, including complex ones such as PTSD and OCD. In many cases, anxieties can also be triggered by major events or a pileup of small worries, from a death in the family to a recent fight with a loved one. Other signs of an teen anxiety disorders include:

  • Performing actions compulsively or relying on a harmful substance/activity to calm down.
  • Consistently nervous or restless.
  • Frequent panic attacks.
  • Constant feeling of impending doom.
  • Being distracted by fear, to the point of missing work or failing to perform at school.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms triggered by stress.

Teenage Anxiety Treatment

Teen anxiety disorders make up a wide variety of conditions that generally revolve around uncontrollable, intrusive, and worrying thoughts. Some cases of anxiety involve compulsive actions to soothe the mind (OCD), while others involve a complex relationship with specific stimuli and memory caused by a single traumatic event (PTSD). Teenage anxiety treatment requires a tailored approach that combines talk therapy with medication.

Individual and Group Therapy

Individual and group therapy can involve a large number of different psychotherapy techniques, including DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), exposure therapy, and more. Different methods are used for different conditions, but the overarching goal is to help teens learn to cope with stress and better separate themselves from emotional outbursts and loss of self-control. Many talk therapy methods also focus on helping teens recognize and isolate intrusive or dangerous thoughts, including thoughts of self-harm or addictive cravings. By better understanding how their mind tries to cope with stressful situations and triggers, teens can identify when they’re able to cope with a problem themselves, and when to seek help from others.

Anxiety Medication

Depending on the nature and severity of the condition, medication for teen anxiety disorders treatment works best when combined with therapy. Medication does not replace therapy, and therapy does not replace medication. The two are used concurrently whenever it is appropriate, although psychiatrists will usually try to find a way to help patients without resorting to prescriptions. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are also used to combat teen anxiety disorders and can be a first-line medication due to their relative safety and lack of long-term side effects. Anti-anxiety drugs like buspirone may also be prescribed, and in certain cases of severe anxiety where other options are not viable, doctors may prescribe a stronger medication, including beta-blockers and benzodiazepines (alprazolam or diazepam).

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Bridging the Gap Between Teenage Anxiety Treatment and Recovery

A supportive environment can, at times, make all the difference. At Visions, we provide a variety of teenage anxiety treatment programs to help adolescents both in-house and through outpatient care. We also cooperate with local educators and a skilled team of experienced therapists to ensure that every teen gets a tailored teenage anxiety treatment approach that:

  • Provides regular and ongoing mental support, and post-treatment resources
  • Encourages healthier habits
  • Teaches them better coping skills
  • Cooperates and coordinates with the family to ensure that everyone is on the same page

Teen anxiety disorders can be destructive, robbing a teen of their potential and seriously impeding their growth. We do our best to help teens cope with their condition, manage their symptoms, and live life to its fullest.