Therapy for Anxiety
CHILDREN and ADOLESCENTS
Many children and adolescents have fears and worries, causing them to feel sad and hopeless from time to time. While fears and worries are typical in children and adolescents, persistent or extreme forms of fear and sadness could be due to anxiety or depression. Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders diagnosed in childhood and adolescence.
When a child or adolescent does not outgrow the fears and worries that are typical for their age, or when there are so many fears and worries that they interfere with school, home, or social activities, they may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Examples of some different types of anxiety disorders include:
- Being very afraid when away from parents (separation anxiety)
- Having extreme fear about a specific thing or situation, such as dogs, insects, heights, or going to the doctor (phobias)
- Being very afraid of school and other places where there are people (social anxiety)
- Being very worried about the future and about bad things happening (general anxiety)
- Having repeated episodes of sudden, unexpected, intense fear that come with symptoms like heart pounding, trouble breathing, dizziness, shaking, or sweating (panic disorder)
· Having unwanted thoughts, feelings and fears (obsessions) that cause anxiety and are relieved by specific behaviors or rituals (obsessive compulsive disorder).
Anxiety may present as fear or worry, but it can also make children or adolescents become irritable and angry, even oppositional at times. Anxiety symptoms can also include trouble sleeping, as well as physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, or stomachaches, or extreme panic. Some anxious children and adolescents keep their worries to themselves and, thus, the symptoms can often be missed.
Cognitve Behavior Therapy or CBT, can be a very effective treatment for children and adolescents with anxiety. However sometimes, if their anxiety is so high, they are unable to learn and utilize these techniques effectively, a combination of medication and CBT is recommended. In these situations, reducing their anxiety first, allows them to be more able to learn and practice these techniques, so that they can ultimately use them effectively when they experience anxiety.
Is anxiety taking over your life? Does it feel like you can’t control it no matter how hard you try?
Often, these are the symptoms of anxiety:
- Nervousness, restlessness or being tense
- Feelings of danger, panic or dread
- Rapid breathing or hyperventilation
- Increased or heavy sweating
- Trembling or muscle twitching
- Weakness or lethargy
- Difficulty focusing or thinking clearly about anything other than the thing you’re worried about
- Obsessions about certain ideas, a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Anxiety surrounding a particular life event or experience that has occurred in the past, a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder
Therapy can help to uncover the underlying causes of your worries and fears, learn how to relax, look at situations in a new, less frightening way, and develop better coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills. CBT is the most effective and recommended form of treatment for anxiety. However sometimes, when an individual’s anxiety is extremely high and negatively affecting their day to day functioning, a combination of medication and therapy is often recommended.