A fantastic resource for teens with mental illness and their parents is this website: TeenMentalHealth.org.
This site contains a thorough description of the many illnesses that can affect teens and how those disorders can get in the way of their lives. Additionally, this site also includes ways to cope with those illnesses as well as a list of resource to get help. If you struggle with anxiety, for example, this site has a very good explanation of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) that goes something like this:
Anxiety is a disruption in the way the brain controls signals it uses to identify danger. Typically, when a person recognizes danger the body prepares to initiate action in order to avoid that danger. However, with anxiety disorders, including GAD, this signaling system doesn’t work and a person might experience their body gearing up for action even when there is no danger at all.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a diagnosis given to those teens who experience excessive and irrational worry. As a result, a teen might experience serious emotional distress, problems at school or at home, have healthy relationships, and a general interference in one’s life.
You might see that there is a difference between feeling nervous and anxiety. For instance, it might be natural to experience anxiety right before an exam or if you’re about to go on a date. But excessive anxiety is often persistent and seems to come on without an associated trigger. Its symptoms, such as a racing heart, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, shaking, sweating palms, and feeling hot, might suddenly come out of nowhere. Those with GAD tend to feel extreme worry even for everyday matters.
Based upon the above listed symptoms and description, you might suspect that you might have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Or you might have already been diagnosed with the illness. Fortunately, there is treatment for this disorder so that you can return to a life you enjoy. For instance, typically, anxiety is treated with some form of medication to relieve you of the symptoms of anxiety. Types of medication for teen anxiety include anti-anxiety medication, such as benzodiazepines. They include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin. This can give you some immediate relief so that you are not burdened by the disorder. 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.
At the same time, treatment for GAD also requires therapy. While the medication helps with the more immediate experience, therapy can help with the long-term experience of anxiety and help curb the presence of anxiety later in life. For instance, in therapy, you might discuss issues that might be contributing to anxiety. You might also learn about how to cope with stress and tension. Lastly, you might learn the specific triggers in your life that cause panic and anxiety.
If you feel that you experience extreme forms of anxiety, contact an adult you trust or a mental health professional.
Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.