Anxiety disorders are among the most common disorders in children and adults. All teens suffer from anxiety from time to time under ordinary situations, like the first date and giving a presentation in school. However, many teens have deeper anxiety problems that impair their ability to live fulfilling lives. Untreated long-term anxiety can lead to lost opportunities, depression, addiction, and chronic physical problems.
A little anxiety helps us with our energy when it is important to be alert, for instance, when we need to study for an exam or stay focused while driving in hazardous conditions. A little anxiety helps us get through situations where we need extra focus and alertness. Anxiety that lingers is bad. It can cripple our ability to perform work functions and other tasks that benefit our lives.
Anxiety As A Disorder
Anxiety becomes a disorder when it begins to impair normal daily life. Exaggerated and unhealthy responses to different situations is a sign of underlying anxiety. People with anxiety may have difficulty falling asleep, constantly think troubling thoughts, experience shyness, fear, nervousness, and avoid places or things. They may also look for ways to relieve that anxiety that can be unhealthy, such as using drugs or alcohol, or self-harm.
Anxiety has a physical aspect. Feelings of anxiety come with our body’s fight or flight response and is a part of our alert system. Feelings of anxiety often are a part of our perception of danger. The sweaty palms, tense muscles, and elevated heart rate have their place in times of danger. When there is real danger, these responses help us quickly deal with the danger. If anxious feelings linger or are present when there is no danger, they lead to long term physical problems, such as hypertension and heart disease.
Your anxiety level may to high if:
- You feel anxious for no specific reason
- You worry excessively about ordinary things
- You avoid situations that ordinarily pose no danger
- You have panic attacks
- You feel sick or sweaty in social situations
Common Types on Anxiety
Anxiety affects people in different ways. Below is a list of the more common forms of anxiety. It is not a complete list, but gives you an idea of how prevalent anxiety is in our society.
Generalized Anxiety — This is when anxiety is lurking in the background. There is a general sense of unease and nervousness in all activities. The person who suffers from generalized anxiety is always a little on edge, a little nervous. People with GA have problems falling asleep, have difficulty letting go, or constantly imagine bad situations. GA can be accompanied by feelings of light-headedness and regular stomach aches. GA is often accompanied by other anxiety disorders.
Phobias — A phobia is when a specific irrational fear has taken over. Teens often have phobias over school and social activities. This may lead to missing school and social events. Sometimes phobias are coupled with physical symptoms such as headaches, cramps, and high stress. Common phobias include:
- agoraphobia, not wanting to leave the house.
- social phobia, fear of people (speeches, eating, etc.)
- arachnophobia, fear of spiders
- acrophobia, fear of heights
- claustrophobia, fear of closed spaces
- mysophobia, fear of germs
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) — OCD is characterized by obsessive thoughts that create anxiety and/or do things to reduce the level of anxiety. The actions or thoughts are repeated over and over again. OCD takes many forms. For example, an OCD person may have to repeat a word in a certain way before opening the door to a refrigerator. They may not be able to enter a house except at certain timer intervals. An OCD sufferer can also be obsessively thinking about being robbed or mugged or getting sick.
Panic Attacks — Panic attacks are a debilitating form of anxiety. When a panic attack takes place, your heart pounds, your breathing becomes shallow, and you may be at risk of fainting. Panic attacks are intense periods of anxiety that paralyse the individual.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder — PSTD is another form of anxiety. Teens who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events are often affected by anxiety as a consequence. PST sufferers have nightmares, intrusive memories, and bouts of severe emotional distress.
Social Anxiety — Social anxiety is a common issue for teenagers. All teens have anxiety from time to time in social situations. Most of them learn to deal with the feelings and continue to participate in social events and have fun. However, social anxiety becomes a problem when teens avoid events because of anxious feelings. These can be dances, concerts, parties, and clubs. These are important elements of a healthy teen life. Social anxiety can be a serious problem.
Anxiety Treatment Options
Anxiety disorders are treatable. Anxiety is usually sign that there are unprocessed emotions and experiences that need to be brought into consciousness and either discussed or felt. A lot of anxiety can be traced back to feeling unsafe in childhood, either because of an unstable home, or stress in parents or caregivers. Treatment involves looking beyond the anxiety to what needs to be healed.
There are a number of different ways to handle anxiety disorder depending on the severity.
Mild anxiety disorder can often be treated with behavioral and awareness therapy. Teens can start with a little bit of self-awareness and simple coping strategies. Just acknowledging the anxiety and moving forward can bring relief. Then there are a variety of relaxation techniques that can be used to relieve stress and anxiety. Meditation is also helpful.
Dietary changes are beneficial. The foods we eat have a profound effect on our well-being. Avoiding anxiety producing foods and eating foods that increase the strength of the nervous system should be combined with other forms of treatment. Avoid coffee and alcohol. Add seeds, cheese, oats, milk, poultry and other foods that contain tryptophan. Tryptophan helps the brain produce serotonin, which increases feelings of calmness and well-being.
If that does not work, you can work with a professional therapist on ways to relieve anxiety without the use of medication. Seeing a therapist, social worker, or counselor, is the first step if you are not having any luck using simple coping strategies. They may suggest different strategies and ways to overcome anxiety.
Finally, medication is often prescribed to people who suffer from anxiety. There are a variety of options for medication. Medication can be coupled with a behavioral approach to reduce anxiety. Today, a person does not need to quietly suffer from anxiety. There are many effective ways to treat anxiety and help people live healthy productive lives.