Anxiety disorder can be difficult to detect and diagnose in adolescents and teens, especially girls. Stress and anxiety are a normal part of young girls’ lives, as they struggle to transition through what can be a difficult time of life anyway. Taken to the extreme, however, it can disrupt lives. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 25 percent of 13-to-18-year-olds are subject to suffering from anxiety, and that girls are significantly more likely than boys to be affected. In fact, throughout their lifetime, women are 60% more likely to suffer from anxiety than men are. Perhaps most disturbing, only about 18 percent of teens who suffer from this disorder ever receive mental health care, NIMH reports.
When Does Anxiety become Problematic?
Anxiety and fear are normal emotional processes, helping people cope with stressful times or events. When these become excessive, however, they can disrupt life in significant ways. Teens may not have developed the coping strategies necessary to process and work through anxiety. Although the symptoms can vary greatly, the central themes of this disorder are extreme or irrational fear and dread. Sleep and eating patterns may become disrupted and grades may begin to slip. Sufferers may become reluctant to leave the house, causing them to miss school and social activities. Physical manifestations including shortness of breath, pounding heart, excessive sweating, trembling and nausea. If the teen’s life becomes disrupted, especially if symptoms are severe or persist for six months or longer, the evaluation of a mental health professional is warranted.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety can take several forms, including post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder. Although each subtype presents with different symptoms, any form of this disorder can become problematic, especially if left untreated. Potential accompanying problems include addiction, substance abuse and compulsive behavior. These behaviors may be viewed as normal teen “acting out” but in reality, these are attempts to self-medicate or try to alleviate the emotional pain. In fact, they almost always exacerbate the situation rather than relieving it.
Is Your Daughter at Risk for Anxiety Disorder?
Factors that can increase the risk of anxiety disorder include improper diet, environmental factors such as pollution, physical and psychological stress, abuse and the experience of traumatic events. Genetic factors must also be considered, as parents who suffer from anxiety are more likely to have children who also experience this disorder. Unfortunately, it’s common for young people to avoid discussing their symptoms, fearing they will be judged as weak or told that what they’re experiencing is normal. Feelings of shame and embarrassment may also prevent a young woman from seeking help, especially if abuse is involved.
Although medication can be helpful, research indicates that behavioral and experiential therapies are the most beneficial for mitigating anxiety disorder and developing necessary coping skills. With effective stress management strategies in place, the rate of recovery is encouraging for girls. Havenwood Academy has helped countless young women recover from anxiety disorders and similar challenges, providing the understanding and therapeutic intervention necessary to restore healthy, happy lives. If you suspect your daughter may have anxiety disorder, contact Havenwood Academy to learn more.