Anxiety and Teens
What Anxiety Treatments Are Available for Teens?
Finding the right treatment is an important first step in reducing your anxiety. Treatment involves seeing a psychiatrist, clinical social worker, or psychologist. Sometimes the counselors at school may serve as a resource to find the appropriate treatment. Treatment can improve many areas of your life, including your performance in school and relationships with your family and friends.
Here are the most common treatments for anxiety.
Medication. Several types of prescription medications can be useful, depending on the kind of anxiety you have. Generalized anxiety or anxiety in social situations are often treated with the same kinds of medication used to treat depression. These take 4 - 6 weeks to work best. Because of this, your doctor may also recommend another type of treatment such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Specific anti-anxiety drugs, called benzodiazepines (the oldest of which is Valium), can also be added or used alone, depending on the circumstances. Specific anxieties, like panic about tests or public speaking, can also be treated by taking a single dose of a medication called a beta-blocker about an hour before the feared event.
New medications are being developed all the time. Your health care provider will work with you to find the one(s) that work best for you. Remember, if you are taking medications for anxiety, it is important to follow your doctor's instructions for taking it. Never stop taking any anxiety medication without talking to your doctor first.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy. You'll need to see a therapist for cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. The therapist will help you identify what types of thoughts and beliefs cause your anxiety, and work with you to reduce them. It's important to see a therapist who has experience treating anxiety in teens, and to plan to see that therapist frequently. Keep in mind that any therapy can succeed only if you work on getting better. The therapist just helps by suggesting ways that may help you change and get better.
Biofeedback. This therapy uses electronics to measure how your body responds to stress. It's based on the idea that when people are given information about their body's internal processes, they can use this information to learn to control those processes.
During biofeedback, you'll be connected to a machine that tells you and your therapist when you are relaxing your body. With sensors placed over specific muscle sites, the therapist can read the tension in your muscles, your heart rate, your breathing pattern, the amount of sweat produced, and/or body temperature. Any one of these readings can let the therapist know if you are learning to relax. Biofeedback can be fun -- it's almost like playing a computer game.
Relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques can help reduce anxiety and negative thoughts and help you manage stress. Common relaxation techniques include deep abdominal breathing, meditation, listening to calming music, and activities like yoga and tai chi.