Let’s say your teen tends to worry about things. For instance, she may worry about the fact that her younger brother is going to miss the bus to school. But if that worry prevents her from being able to concentrate on her school work or prevents her from having a conversation with a friend, then the anxiety might be too overwhelming.
It’s natural to feel anxious in certain situations, such as when your teen is taking an exam, starring in the school play, or going out on a first date. But anxiety that is related to every day matters and especially when that anxiety prevents a teen’s functioning in school, at home, or in relationships, then there might be a mental illness.
If you’re a parent, it’s important to first have your teen diagnosed. There are a variety of disorders of anxiety. Knowing the right one can lead to the right treatment and support for your teen. For instance, here is a list of various types of anxiety disorders sometimes seen in teens:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a diagnosis given to those who experience excessive and irrational worry for at least six months. The excessive anxiety interferes with the ability to function and usually consists of extreme anxiety for everyday matters.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by repeating thoughts and images that might cause an individual to perform the same rituals over and over again, such as washing hands, locking and unlocking doors, or counting money. The individual typically cannot control the unwanted thoughts but get relief from the anxiety they experience as a result of repeating thoughts.
Panic Disorder is a mental health condition in which an individual experiences sudden and repeated attacks of fear, which are often accompanied by a feeling of being out of control. Uncomfortable physical sensations, such as a pounding heart, sweating, weakness, dizziness, and numbness makes up the experience a panic attack. An intense worry about the next attack is a common symptom.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness experienced by someone who has experienced a traumatic event, and who is experiencing symptoms of anxiety as a result. These symptoms may include flashbacks, bad dreams, and frightening thoughts. An individual might also exhibit symptoms of avoidance, such as staying away from certain places to avoid reliving the traumatic experience or forgetting the experience entirely.
Phobias are an irrational persistent fear of an object, situation, or social activity. Examples of specific phobias are claustrophobia, a fear of small spaces, and agoraphobia, the fear of being in a place or situation from which escape is difficult or impossible.
Once you’re aware of the type of anxiety disorder your teen may have, you can then get the appropriate type of medication, support groups, therapy, and other tools that you believe your teen may need. Help is available. In fact, help is available to you as a parent who may need the support so that you can in turn support your teen. Contact a mental health provider today for more information on teen anxiety and how you can assist your teen in managing this illness.
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.