Where Worry Crosses Over into an Anxiety Disorder
It is normal for your teen to feel nervous when facing an important test or getting ready for a big date. If they occasional worry to the point where they lose sleep, that is still normal. However, if they freak out more often than not over these things, regularly lose sleep, and feel tense much of the time, then they need to be assessed for an anxiety disorder.
It is normal for your teen to cry when mom and dad are divorcing. If they cry a lot at the beginning of the divorce, then it tapers off, that can be normal. However, when months and years have gone by and the distress of the change keeps lingering and you notice a difference in their behavior and grades, then they should be assessed for an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety that’s too strong can interfere with doing our best. Too much anxiety can cause people to feel overwhelmed, unable to concentrate, lack confidence, unable to sleep, and decreased or increase in appetite. If anxiety is too constant, intense, and out of proportion, it can impact negatively on a person’s daily functioning and happiness. Here are some of the specific types of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): unwanted and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and ritualistic behaviors and routines (compulsions) conducted to ease anxiety.
- Panic Disorder: spontaneous, seemingly out-of-the-blue panic or “anxiety” attacks and the preoccupation with the fear of a recurring attack.
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): an anxiety disorder triggered by an extremely traumatic event in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened or witnessed.
- Social Anxiety Disorder (social phobia): an intense fear of being scrutinized and negatively evaluated by others in social or performance situations.
- Specific Phobias: seemingly excessive and unreasonable fears in the presence of or in anticipation of a specific object, place, or situation. For example, fear of heights, fear of needles, fear of flying.
Teenagers do not have the wherewithal, to tell their parents they are struggling with an anxiety disorder. They often won’t even realize what’s happening to them. Instead, they typically avoid talking about their worries, thinking that others might not understand, or thinking they are going crazy.
They may fear being unfairly judged, or considered weak or scared. Although anxiety disorders are common, people who have them may feel misunderstood or alone. Some people with anxiety disorders might blame themselves.
It is so important for parents to be able to identify the symptoms of anxiety and know when to get them help.
The good news is there is treatment. Taking your teen to the doctor for anxiety is as important as visiting the doctor for an ear infection or broken arm. Getting the problem treated can help a person feel like him or herself again — relaxed and ready for the good things in life. ReVISION’s therapists can assist by relieving symptoms, providing coping skills and managing anxiety to feel more relaxed and at peace with immediate results. Our therapists can look at the symptoms someone is dealing with, diagnose the specific anxiety disorder, and create a plan to help the person get relief. We have trained professionals who provide evidence-based treatment.