Archives for August 2014

ODD Treatment Options

Oppositional defiance disorder, or ODD, is a behavioral condition that usually manifests when a child is around 8 years old. The behavior is characterized by extreme defiance toward authority figures, such as teachers and parents. Other symptoms include placing blame on others, constant arguing, aggression and anger, seeking revenge, deliberately disobeying reasonable rules, and more. Often, children with ODD also suffer from anxiety and depression, which brings about a totally different set of challenges. ODD is most often diagnosed in young boys, and it’s estimated that around 6 percent of U.S. children have ODD.

Scientists are still not completely sure what causes ODD but recent studies and the latest research seems to link to a combination of genetics and environment. Children who have parents with a history of mental illness and who themselves have been diagnosed with other behavioral issues, like ADD, ADHD, anxiety and depression, are more likely to develop ODD. From an environmental standpoint, children are more likely to have ODD if they come from a dysfunctional home, experience stress and trauma, suffer from a head injury in early childhood or receive harsh or inconsistent discipline.

ODD treatment options include a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. When applied in early childhood, the treatment options seem to work well in helping children overcome their impulses and offer better control over the symptoms. If ODD is not treated or treatments are abandoned, children are likely to experience an increasingly tough time with ODD into adolescence and adulthood.

While there is no single medicine used to treat ODD, medical experts have found that medicines designed to treat similar behavioral issues such as ADD and ADHD seem to help relieve the impulses associated with ODD. Since more than half of children who are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD are also diagnosed with ODD, the medicines used to treat the former are also effective for the latter condition.

Sometimes it takes some time to figure out exactly the right kind of medicine and the proper dosage before significant improvements are seen. It’s important for parents to work closely with doctors to find just the right balance for their children with ODD.

Behavioral therapy is the other factor in treating ODD. Behavioral therapy with a licensed, professional child psychologist includes learning to follow certain proper and healthy behaviors in different situations rather than relying on impulses and emotions. Individual therapy is designed to help children with ODD relearn appropriate behavior and provide them with coping strategies and tools to function better with authority figures.

Family therapy is also important so that parents and siblings can also relearn appropriate ways to interact and react to the child with ODD. When the whole family is functioning under the same strategies and working together to support and guide the child with ODD, family dynamics become much more consistent and stable—which is something that a child with ODD desperately needs.

As more research reveals the origins and causes of ODD and other similar behavioral disorders, medical experts can get closer to a cure. However, until then, parents, doctors, teachers and children must all work together to provide the best treatment strategies available so that the children with ODD can overcome the challenges associated with the condition and lead productive and successful lives.

Tips for Parents of Children with ODD

Oppositional defiance disorder, or ODD, can cause plenty of stress and frustration for children and their families. Parents often seek advice and guidance on how to keep things progressive and positive when it comes to helping their child with ODD. Here are some tips for parents of children with ODD that can help smooth out relationships and keep parents centered on the most important task—working with their child to best manage the symptoms of the condition and minimize its impact on his or her life.

 

About ODD

ODD is a behavioral disorder that includes aggression toward others, frequent angry outbursts and tantrums, deliberately defying authority figures, refusal to obey or comply with reasonable requests and constant blame on others. The symptoms of ODD are often so serious that they interfere with a child’s ability to function normally at home and at school.

 

Because a child’s outburst are so upsetting to both parents and children, it’s important for parents to

follow these 5 steps in dealing with a child with ODD:

 

Step 1. Stay calm

When a child is in the middle of a tantrum, it’s easy for parents to get caught up in the emotions and respond to anger with anger. The best thing for parents to do is to never allow the situation to escalate. In other words, when parents remain calm and collected, no matter what the child says or does, the situation cannot get more tense. In fact, when parents remove themselves from the arguments, it takes a lot of steam out of the child’s tirade.

 

Step 2. Stay consistent

Many children with ODD will argue and argue just for the sake of winning or to wear parents down so that they give in. Parents who set clear rewards and punishments for each action and stick to them have a much better chance of helping their child control his or her behavior. If a child knows that he or she will always receive a certain reward or privilege for a certain behavior or accomplishment, there is more incentive to overcome impulses. On the other hand, a child who gets consistent punishments for certain actions may be more inclined to control the actions leading to that consequence.

 

Step 3. Stay focused

A child with ODD is an expert in pushing people’s buttons and throwing them off center in order to manipulate them. Parents must stay focused on the task at hand (such as getting a child to finish a chore or to talk about a disruption at school) instead of getting distracted by the child’s argument or feeling bad about something the child says (like, “you’re fat” or “I hate you”). Staying focused on the goal allows parents to better help their child reach his or her own goals—immediately and in the long-term.

 

Step 4. Stay involved

Children with ODD need lots of guidance and intervention, whether it’s taking medicine on time or making it to scheduled therapy. If ODD is left untreated, it can result in significant behavior issues into adolescence and adulthood. Parents who stay involved and proactive provide the most valuable resources to their child and act as an advocate in all kinds of situations, especially at school. There are support groups, online forums, awareness websites and more all dedicated to providing the latest information, most recent studies and basic support for both parents and children with ODD.

 

Step 5. Stay positive

Children with ODD know that they are different and often understand that they cause frustration and anger in adults around them. Parents can help children with ODD to see beyond their negative self-impressions and boost their self-esteem. Staying positive and enthusiastic, even during the worst episodes, let children see that they have someone on their side who is rooting for them and who believes in them. Helping a child see that there is so much more to him or her than their ODD is a task that every parent should commit to every day.

Symptoms of ODD

Oppositional defiance disorder is a behavioral condition that manifests in children and is characterized by negative, aggressive and defiant behavior. While most children experience periods of testing the authority of adults, children with ODD experience more severe behavioral and emotional acting out, which leads to serious issues in developing and keeping relationships at home and at school with teachers, parents and friends.

 

Scientists are not sure what causes ODD, but recent research links genetic and biological factors with environmental influences. Risk factors such as family dysfunction, substance abuse, harsh or inconsistent discipline, stressful and frequent changes to family life and a history of mental illness in the family, increase the chances of a child developing ODD. Because children with ODD also tend to have other behavioral disorders like ADD, anxiety and depression, it seems that an imbalance of brain chemicals may also contribute to the condition.

 

How is ODD Diagnosed?

For parents and teachers who believe a child may have ODD, it’s important to understand some of the general symptoms that may manifest. While a diagnosis of ODD must come from a pediatrician and a child psychologist, these experts rely on communication from parents and teachers to help them get a full picture of each child’s attitude and behavior.

 

Generally, parents and teachers have the first conversations about a child’s defiant behavior and the first visit is to the child’s pediatrician. The pediatrician will conduct medical tests to ensure there are no physical problems that may be causing the behaviors, then refer the parents to a child psychologist. After observation and a few therapy sessions, the child psychologist can then pronounce a diagnosis of ODD.

 

What are the Symptoms of ODD?

Parents who wonder why their child is aggressive and defiant should get educated about the symptoms of ODD. Here is a list of symptoms that are typical in children diagnosed with ODD:

 

·         Frequent tantrums that last longer than 20 to 30 minutes

·         Recurrent behavior problems, especially with following the rules

·         Numerous arguments where the child can’t be reasoned with or agree to a truce

·         Repeated aggression and anger issues with adults and other children

·         Disregard for rules, regulations and requests at home and at school

·         Often blames others for own behaviors or mistakes

·         Deliberately defying basic requests or orders

·         Provoking and criticizing authority figures

·         Frequently vengeful or spiteful

 

The child’s behavior must occur often enough that the disturbances are having a serious impact on the child’s school life, relationships with friends and home life. Parents and teachers can also watch for other behavioral issues, such as depression, anxiety and ADHD. In fact, approximately 1/3 of children with ADHD will also have ODD, and many of the symptoms of both conditions may appear similar. Anxiety and depression are frequently associated with ADHD and ODD, so other behaviors not typical of ODD may still give parents and teachers a clue in narrowing down the issue.

 

What’s the Long-term Prognosis for ODD?

When children are treated for ODD as early as possible with a combination of medicine and behavioral therapy, the outlook for improvement is good and children are better able to manage their behavior in different settings. However, it may take several months or years before results are significant enough to have a serious impact on the child’s relationships. Abandoning treatment is detrimental and can lead to more serious conduct and behavior issues in adolescence and adulthood. 

What Causes ODD

Oppositional defiance disorder, or ODD, is a behavioral condition that first manifests in childhood, around age 8. It’s not uncommon for children with ODD to also have other behavioral conditions, such as ADHD, anxiety or depression. In childhood, more boys are diagnosed with ODD than girls, although when the condition develops in adolescence, nearly an equal number of teen boys and teen girls are diagnosed.

 

Symptoms of ODD include :

·         Inability to interact or communicate with people in authority

·         Violent temper tantrums

·         Frequent arguments

·         Aggression and anger

·         Deliberate disobedience

·         Chronic undermining of authority figures

·         Desire for revenge

·         Sabotage authority figure’s efforts for control or compliance

 

After medical and psychiatric evaluation, doctors work with children towards treating the symptoms using a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. When intervention is done early enough, treatment methods are generally effective. However, many medical experts are still not certain what causes ODD in children and continue to do research into what are the causes of ODD.

 

Environmental Risk Factors for ODD

While scientists aren’t completely clear on the causes of ODD, they have identified some risk factors that seem to occur more frequently in the history and background of children who develop the condition. These risk factors include :

 

·         Parental neglect

·         Childhood abuse

·         Dysfunctional family dynamics

·         Parental history of behavioral disorders

·         Harsh discipline

·         Frequent stressful changes, such as moving or divorce

 

These risk factors seem to influence a child’s attitude and reaction toward authority figures and an inability to feel security, stability and consistency. Combined with biological factors, these situations could trigger ODD in a child who is already sensitive to engage in disruptive and defiant behavior.

 

Biological Factors

Because ODD often manifests along with other behavioral disorders, like ADHD, many scientists believe that a chemical imbalance in the brain is a major contributor to the condition. In the brain, neurotransmitters send messages to and from the brain. When there is a chemical imbalance, these messages may not be sent or received quite correctly. Scientists believe that this imbalance can be caused in fetal development or due to head injuries in early childhood.

 

If a child’s family history includes mental illness, especially ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression or ODD, the likelihood of a child developing the condition increases greatly. Genetics may play a role in whether or not a child is born with sensitivity to developing ODD, which is then influenced by environmental factors.

 

More research is needed to discover the precise causes of ODD and other behavioral conditions because once the cause is identified and analyzed, a cure is more likely to be found. A greater understanding into the causes of ODD could lead to prevention of the condition in the first place.

 

Outlook for Children with ODD

When children receive early intervention in treating the symptoms of ODD, the success rate is high when it comes to strengthening positive behavior and controlling themselves in a range of situations with authority figures. When children are part of a supportive, consistent home and school environment, along with appropriate medication and ongoing individual and family therapy, situations involving defiant behavior are minimized.

What is ODD

When a child demonstrates consistent defiance to authority figures in his or her life, it may be a case of oppositional defiance disorder, or ODD. Many parents and teachers may ask themselves: what is ODD? The condition is classed as a behavior problem and frequently disrupts the child’s normal interactions and relationships with family, friends and at school. Often, children with ODD also have other behavioral issues, such as ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities.

 

Generally, the condition appears around the age of 8 and is more likely to manifest in young boys than in girls. Recent estimates show up to 6 percent of children in the United States may have ODD.

 

What Causes ODD?

Scientists are not sure about what causes ODD, however decades of research are narrowing down the environmental and biological contributions. On the environmental side, children with certain factors present in their lives are more at risk of developing ODD. Those factors include previous or current substance abuse by parents and overall dysfunction in a child’s family life.

 

The biological factors that increase risk include a past history of mental illness in the family, an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that affect neurotransmitters, and head injuries in childhood. Scientists believe that a combination of biological and environmental conditions may work together to create a sensitivity in children to be predisposed to developing ODD.

 

What Are the Symptoms of ODD?

While symptoms may differ slightly between individuals, there are general symptoms that pediatricians and child psychologists look for when evaluating someone for ODD. General symptoms include :

·         Frequent arguing with authority figures, like parents and teachers

·         Frequent outbursts of anger or resentment

·         Frequent tantrums

·         Deliberate refusal to obey reasonable requests

·         Provoking others via language and behavior

·         Putting blame on others for actions or consequences

·         Seek revenge for real or imagined slights

·         Repeated use of harsh or inflammatory language

 

ODD is diagnosed after a physical exam and tests provide no evidence for any medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms. Absent any medical explanation, pediatricians and child psychologists conduct evaluations and assess whether the child’s behavior is consistent with what they know about ODD. Parents, teachers, siblings and others often provide feedback on what they’ve observed with the child as well, giving the experts a complete picture of behavior and attitude.

 

What Treatments for ODD are Available?

While there is no cure for ODD, medical experts are making great strides in managing the symptoms. A combination of medication and behavioral therapy help children keep better control over their emotions and allow them to interact more effectively with others.

 

Medicine the medical experts typically give children with ODD are not specifically for treating ODD, but rather for associated conditions like ADHD, anxiety or depression. Because it is so common for children with ODD to have another behavioral condition, the medicine seems to work to help them control many of the overall symptoms of ODD.

 

Behavioral therapy is when a child meets with child psychologists to work on changing the way the child thinks and reacts to certain situations, especially with authority figures. Family therapy is another key factor in helping children and their families work better together by changing up the actions and reactions they were engaging in and replacing them with healthier, more effective communication techniques.

 

Early intervention is key in making sure a child with ODD receives the best care and help needed in order to engage with others effectively. Without treatment, a child’s family, school and social lives are a struggle as he or she has difficulty in building and maintaining relationships necessary to be successful in life.

Anxiety Treatment Options in Teens

Anxiety disorders in teens is when someone experiences so many physical and mental symptoms of worry, fear and panic that it interferes with normal living. While it’s normal for everyone to have periods of stress and nervousness, an anxiety disorder is more frequent and more severe. In extreme cases, teens who suffer from anxiety disorders start to avoid the people, places and other environments that trigger the symptoms of a panic attack.

 

Left untreated, anxiety disorders increase the risk of teens getting involved in substance abuse or developing other mental health disorders like depression.

 

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety symptoms are both physical and mental. When parents, teachers and doctors identify that a teen is experiencing a combination of symptoms for more than six months, a diagnosis of anxiety disorder is made and the teen is sent to a specialist who focuses on teen anxiety disorders.

 

Symptoms to watch for include restlessness, shallow breathing, lack of focus, headaches, nausea, sweating, irritability, crying, depression, trembling, excessive worry and ritualistic compulsions like cleaning, tapping or grooming.

 

In an attempt to avoid stress triggers, many teens will remove themselves from situations that make them anxious so it’s not uncommon for teens with anxiety disorders to stop doing activities they once enjoyed, avoid group situations and suddenly do worse in school or at a job. Because they feel embarrassed or ashamed, teens often try to hide their symptoms as long as possible.

 

Treatment Options

When a teen is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, a physician will generally refer them to a therapist who will outline a treatment plan designed to help the teen cope better with anxiety. Anxiety treatment options are generally divided into two angles: medical and therapeutic.

 

Medical

Because scientists believe that anxiety disorders are linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain, there are certain medicines that are approved for teens to take to help bring balance to the body. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get the type of medicine and the doses working just right for each teen. However, most medical experts agree that serotonin reuptake inhibitors or benzodiazepines are the best for anxiety. Many teens report that they feel better and less worried within a few weeks. As teens progress in their treatment plan, therapists usually adjust medication based on need and progress.

 

Therapeutic

Counseling can help teens develop effective coping skills so that when they face stress, they don’t automatically revert to their anxious state. Therapy often includes practice in redirecting their thoughts from negative to positive and it’s done in a gradual manner. For example, if they experience a negative thought, such as they think a parent will get into a car crash, they can replace it with a thought that car crashes are not very common and their parent is a good driver. Therapy will also help teens deal with the physical symptoms that anxiety brings. For example, if they notice they are starting to breathe rapidly, they can consciously start to take deep, slow breaths to calm their body down.

 

Outlook for Anxiety

With proper treatment, consisting of a combination of medicine and therapy, most teens are able to resume happy and productive lives where they have control over their anxiety. When left untreated, teens increase their risk of encountering problems like depression, substance abuse and poor school performance. Parents who suspect their teen is suffering from symptoms of anxiety disorder should consult with a family doctor as soon as possible to bring their child the help that he or she needs to transition successfully from adolescence to adulthood.

Symptoms of Anxiety in Teens

As a parent, you may have noticed increasingly unusual behavior in your teen and wondered if he or she was developing an anxiety disorder. While it’s normal for people to feel anxious based on everyday stress, an anxiety disorder is more serious, especially in teens.

 

Today’s teens are faced with a wide variety of stressful situations, from school to jobs to friends to thinking about their future. It’s fine for teens to feel stressed and anxious about some things, but when those feelings start to prevent the teen from engaging in his or her environment normally, then parents have something to worry about.

 

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a condition where the body prepares for threats and danger, whether real or perceived. The brain receives signals from the body of a potential danger, so it floods the body with chemicals designed to help confront or flee from the danger. Anxiety helped human ancestors survive in a harsh, dangerous world.

 

Anxiety Today

Today, the human body still reacts the same way to stress by entering into an anxious state. You may recognize the symptoms of anxiety when you have to speak in front of a group, get a work evaluation, take a big test or meet new people. Fear of making a mistake or being rejected are also modern triggers for normal anxiety.

 

However, anxiety disorders are when people feel anxious and fearful more frequently and stronger than normal. It’s not uncommon for those with anxiety disorders to feel extremely worried over things that typically are not worrisome. Anxiety disorders can interfere with a teen’s ability to function normally every day, and if left untreated, can have a severe impact on his or her life.

 

Symptoms of Anxiety

Parents should watch for symptoms of anxiety disorder in their teen so that they can seek out medical help in diagnosing and treating the problem.  Here is a list of common physical symptoms that teenagers may experience when struggling with anxiety:

 

·         Rapid, shallow breathing

·         Sweaty palms and armpits

·         Nausea, vomiting and stomach pains

·         Trembling and shaking

·         Crying and weeping

·         Headaches

·         Chest pains

·         Muscle tension

·         Pounding heartbeat

 

Teens may present these physical symptoms all at once or they may build gradually. Some teens only have some symptoms while others may display most or all.

 

Mental symptoms of anxiety are harder for parents to spot, but may provide the best glimpse of whether or not a teen is struggling with an anxiety disorder. Here are some typical mental symptoms of anxiety:

 

·         Lack of focus

·         Depression

·         Change in diet

·         Insomnia or restless sleep

·         Irritability or anger

·         Withdrawing from friends and activities

·         Excessive fear or worry

·         Compulsive rituals, like grooming or cleaning

·         Avoidance of groups or gatherings

·         Never making eye contact when speaking

·         Irrational fears

 

What Parents Can Do

When you think your teen may be suffering from anxiety, it’s important to seek out help as soon as possible. If treated, anxiety can be minimized to the point where your teen will feel better and find more success in school, at work and socially.

 

Anxiety treatment options generally consists of therapy and medication, which are both designed to help retrain the teen’s body on how to deal with real or perceived stress. New coping mechanisms will allow your teen to regain control of his or her body and mind and not be subject to the grip of an anxiety disorder.

What Causes Anxiety in Teens

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful or dangerous situations, but when the reactions are frequent, severe and out of proportion to the situation, it could mean an anxiety disorder. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to anxiety disorders. Learning the causes of anxiety in teens can help parents, teachers and caregivers identify which teens are struggling and allow them to get help.

 

Anxiety symptoms are both physical and mental and include sweating, flushing, rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, nausea and headaches. Mentally, anxiety sufferers experience clouded thinking, worry, fear and panic. Essentially, anxiety is the body’s fight-or-flight reaction, honed over millions of years to protect humans from dangerous situations. Essentially the brain is interpreting signals sent to it from other parts of the body and, when danger or threats are perceived, it floods the body with chemicals and hormones that maximize the body’s ability to confront the danger or run away from it. If the threat subsides, the brain ceases to flood the body, and the person can relax.

 

Causes of Anxiety

Scientists are not completely sure what causes anxiety disorders although they are confident that a variety of factors contribute to the condition. While normal anxiety is the result of environmental triggers, anxiety disorders lead to the same physical and mental results but with different triggers.

 

Genetic: There are definitely genetic factors involved in anxiety disorders because teens are more likely to develop anxiety if their parents or other family members have it. While genetic predisposition is not yet proven, there are links between anxiety disorders appearing along family lines.

 

Medical: Studies show that certain medical conditions may contribute to anxiety disorders, such as side effects of certain medications, blood clots, or stress that result from a long-term illness. Certain body chemistry also seems to make some people more prone to anxiety, especially those who have unbalanced levels of chemicals in the brain which affects neurotransmitters.

 

Environmental: Anxiety can also be a result of certain outside influences, like too much stress at work or school, trauma from abuse, abandonment stress from death or divorce, poor family or personal relationships and post-traumatic stress from violence or disasters.

 

Diagnosing Anxiety

A physician may diagnose anxiety when he or she notices several symptoms in the patient. Generally, diagnosis is made when the patient suffers from restlessness, tension, insomnia, lack of focus or irritability for more than six months, coupled with feelings of excessive worry several times a week and the patient’s inability to control that worry. A physician would observe the patient for at least 6 months and gauge how the anxiety was affecting the patient’s school, work and relationships.

 

Once the condition is diagnosed, the patient will enter into a treatment plan that includes a combination of therapy and medication. The therapy would provide the patient with alternate coping skills and a safe, therapeutic place to get a better understanding of the triggers associated with the disorder. The medication attempts to restore some of the chemical balance in the body which might lead to internal miscommunication between outside triggers and the brain.

 

Many teens who are treated for anxiety disorders experience success and it is entirely possible to manage the problem. Teens who get help for anxiety are generally able to do better at school, work and in establishing relationships with friends and family.

 

If a teen with an anxiety disorder does not get the appropriate medical help, it’s common for the teen to withdraw from his or her environment to minimize those triggers. He or she may quit doing activities they used to enjoy, such as after school groups or hobbies. They may withdraw from friends or family and start doing poorly in school. In order for teens with anxiety disorders to lead productive, satisfying lives, it’s important for parents to get involved and enroll their teen in some kind of therapy program that will help him or her cope with anxiety.

 

Teens Coping With Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal condition for children, teens and adults, however anxiety disorders are a serious condition that goes beyond teens coping with anxiety. Anxiety disorders occur when physical and mental responses to perceived dangers are so severe that they disrupt a person’s ability to function normally in society, whether that’s school, work or home.

 

Teens coping with anxiety on their own without getting professional help are at a greater risk of developing more serious issues. It’s important for parents and caregivers to learn to recognize the symptoms of anxiety and to identify the ways that teens attempt to cope with the condition, generally unsuccessfully.

 

When teens suffer from anxiety disorders, there are several ways they attempt to cope before their actions are noticeable enough for parents and caregivers to intervene.

 

Avoidance

One common method that teens coping with anxiety use is avoiding known triggers for anxiety attacks. Anxiety is a reaction in the body to real or perceived threats, and the brain triggers a flood of hormones and chemicals to prepare for fight or flight.

 

When the body is in this heightened state, people experience rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, dizziness, nausea, sweating and more. Mentally, people experience clouded thoughts, difficulty concentrating, worry, fear and panic. During an anxiety attack, the sufferer cannot get his or her body to calm down and everything intensifies.

 

Teens who are trying to control anxiety attacks will avoid people, situations and places that might have the smallest possibility of triggering one. It’s common for teens to avoid group activities, classes, gatherings and even friends in order to isolate themselves from a possible anxiety attack.

 

Obsessive Rituals

As irrational as it may seem to those with little to no anxiety, teens often develop rituals that help their brains and bodies deal with the challenges they face with the disorder. Obsessive rituals can be formally classified as obsessive compulsive disorder, and can manifest in a range of ways. Some examples of obsessive rituals might include repetitive grooming, such as washing hands frequently or showering several times per day.

 

Other repetitive activities, such as tapping, knocking or touching, may also help to soothe anxious teens. Pacing the house at night, checking in with parents too frequently, only wearing certain clothes or hairstyles or even refusing to leave the house unless the weather is just so are other examples of ritualistic behaviors that can become obsessive.

 

Substance Abuse and Self Abuse

Certain substances like drugs or alcohol can have a soothing effect on anxious teens and when they are not receiving professional help with their anxiety disorder, they often self-medicate this way. A teen with an untreated anxiety disorder is at a higher risk for developing a substance abuse problem. While some parents may just see drugs and alcohol abuse as typical teen rebellion, it could be masking a deeper mental health issue.

 

Other more dangerous behaviors can be linked to severe anxiety disorders. Examples include cutting, eating disorders, trichotillomania (pulling out hair, such as eyelashes or eyebrows), severe depression and suicidal thoughts.

 

With Treatment Comes Success

The good news is that anxiety disorders have a very high rate of success when treated with a combination of medicine and therapy. Teens who get help with anxiety early in life are more likely to regain the confidence and abilities suppressed by the anxiety disorder.

 

It’s entirely possible that teens who have a good support group of parents, doctors, therapists and more will overcome the challenges of their anxiety and go on to lead happy, successful lives. 

Anxiety and Teens

One of the most common mental health issues is anxiety-related disorders, especially for anxiety and teens. Anxiety is a normal part of growing up, as teens face a range of stresses from school, work, family and friends. The transition to adulthood will have many anxiety triggers along the way. Anxiety is a good thing most of the time and is simply a part of being human, because it has evolved into a combination of mental and physical sensations so people can handle danger. When teens experience severe anxiety symptoms in the absence of any real danger, and the anxiety interferes with normal life, it’s considered an anxiety disorder.

 

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions in children and teens. When treated with a combination of medicine and therapy, teens with anxiety disorders learn coping skills that can help them lead normal and productive lives. Without treatment, teens are at a greater risk of developing depression, eating disorders, self-harm like cutting, substance abuse and dropping out of school.

 

What Causes Anxiety?

Researchers are not sure exactly what causes anxiety disorders, but there are links to genetic, medical and environmental factors. Teens with family members who suffer from anxiety disorders are more likely to develop it themselves. Anxiety is also connected to a range of other mental health conditions, such as depression or ADHD, so experts believe that imbalances in the brain chemicals may contribute to how neurotransmitters send and receive messages. Finally, environmental factors such as trauma, abuse, abandonment or loss, among others, can trigger anxiety.

 

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

Teens manifest anxiety disorders in a range of ways but there are some general symptoms that parents, teachers and caregivers can recognize. Here are the top 10 anxiety symptoms that teens frequently exhibit when they are struggling with anxiety:

 

1.       Rapid heartbeat and shallow breathing

2.       Irritability, restlessness and tension

3.       Headache, fatigue and upset stomach

4.       Lack of focus and concentration

5.       Feelings of dread, fear or anticipation

6.       Irrational fears

7.       Frequent crying

8.       Avoiding activities previously enjoyed

9.       Aggression and anger

10.   Detached or uninvolved in daily activities

 

Other more serious symptoms might include substance abuse, depression, reckless behavior and nervous breakdowns. While the specific symptoms for anxiety disorders may manifest differently for each different teen, when parents and caregivers notice several symptoms occurring together for more than 6 months, it’s time to get professional help.

 

Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are several different types of anxiety disorders that can affect teens, and each type can create significant problems in each teenager’s lives. Here are 6 of the most common anxiety disorders:

 

1.       Panic disorder: When a teen suffers from repeated and significant attacks that have physical and mental symptoms, and this often leads to avoidance of trigger events, such as groups, school or confined spaces.

2.       General anxiety: Characteristic of someone who has frequent yet irrational worries about health, safety or well-being. Often results in symptoms like insomnia and headaches.

3.       OCD—Obsessive compulsive disorder leads to obsessive rituals that attempt to alleviate anxiety. Examples include frequent hand washing, counting, tapping or the inability to focus because of worry.

4.       Social anxiety—Humiliation and embarrassment are the prime motivations for social anxiety, where sufferers avoid social situations and are extremely shy in general. The fear is so profound that often sufferers often freeze up or avoid simple encounters just to avoid the anxiety.

5.       Post traumatic stress—This disorder is a severe anxiety that happens after a trauma, such as violence, abuse, or loss. It’s an extreme form of panic attack that can significantly affect a teen’s life.

 

Teens who suffer from any of these kinds of anxiety disorders must get professional help in order to be able to find success in school, work and in establishing relationships with friends, family and acquaintances. With the right combination of professional treatment, teens can lead a life of success despite their anxiety disorders.