A Brief Overview of the Most Common Anxiety-related Disorders Affecting Teens Today
Everyone knows what it’s like to deal with anxiety. Feelings of anxiousness are just part of being alive. In fact, we as humans NEED emotional distress and feelings of worry in order to live a successful or happy lifestyle. Anxiety is what helps us meet deadlines, pay our bills, meet the obligations and expectations of others, heck, it even encourages those of us who are lead-footed to drive the speed limit.
However, while anxiety is just a natural, integral part of living, there are those whose feelings of anxiousness occur more frequently and with more severity than that of their peers. These anxious-ridden individuals suffer from a mental illness that mental health experts aptly refer to as, an anxiety disorder.
Teenage Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorders are commonly found in teenagers. Unfortunately for teens, - whose hormones, bodily changes, and attraction to the opposite (or same) sex adds new life-stress - anxiety plays a major role during their time of adolescence. However, while most teens suffer from natural, everyday anxieties, life-altering anxiousness remains to be a clinical issue for 10% of American teens currently suffering from some form of anxiety disorder.
Teens who suffer from an anxiety disorder often feel intense, anxiety-ridden emotions at times when their peers would typically feel comfortable. For example, anxiety disorder-suffering teens may have a difficult time with even the most arbitrary human-to-human interactions, which, in turn, may cause them to seem awkward to their less-anxious peers.
Consequently, anxious teens tend to have difficulty with developing relationships and genuine bonds with others.
Due to their anxiety-induced antisocial inclination, it is common for clinically-anxious teens to suffer from co-occurring issues including low-self esteem, depression, and loneliness.
With tendencies to avoid social interactions, clinically-anxious teens often find themselves isolated from many of their (if not all) of their peers. Needless to say, teens with anxiety disorders also commonly suffer from undiagnosed major-depression.
Anxiety, If Left Untreated, May Prove to Be Fatal
Worst still is the overwhelming portion of anxiety-ridden teens who annually fail to receive treatment for their serious, neurological disorder: Although highly treatable, only one-fifth of anxiety-ridden adolescents are clinically treated for their anxiety disorder.
The staggering number of un-or-mistreated, clinically anxious teens is even more disconcerting given that, like depression, unaddressed anxiety disorders dramatically increase a teen’s chances of committing self-harm or suicide, the latter of which being the third-highest cause of death among adolescents.
The Three Most Common Types of Anxiety
Like most deeply complex psychological illnesses, there is more than one type of anxiety disorder. The following is a brief overview of the three types of anxiety disorder:
Generalized (GAD) - this type of anxiety-illness is characterized by chronically worrying, seemingly as if out of nowhere. Teens who suffer from generalized anxiety have little or no control over their near-constant feelings of anxiousness. Teens suffering from GAD have great difficulty relaxing and are typically easily bewildered.
Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Perhaps the most recognizable anxiety disorder regarding the knowledge of its existence, OCD happens to be one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses out there. OCD is characterized by extreme, repetitive behaviors such as flipping on a light switch or obsessively cleaning one’s hands or being obsessed with a thing’s numbers (such as consciously avoiding or being attracted to the number of chairs in a room, etc.) and dictating one’s day based around these issues.
Panic Disorder - This type of anxiousness is characterized by sudden bouts of intense fear. Typically, teens with this kind of disorder feel dizziness or lightheadedness when experiencing clinical anxiousness. NIMH reports that of the 6 million affected people, females are twice as likely to develop this anxiety-based illness.
Potential Warning Signs
Don’t know how to tell the difference between normal, teenage anxiety and clinical illness? If so, it helps to know some of the lesser-known developmental factors that are typically indicative of an anxiety disorder. Here are just a few of the “less obvious” signs for parents to look out for:
- Does your child appear to be uncharacteristically withdrawn? - Teens who suffer from an anxiety disorder often isolate and often keep to themselves and maybe a few chosen others whom they do not feel overly anxious around.
- Does your teenage son or daughter suffer from Constant Depression? - Untreated or undiagnosed anxiety will almost always lead to further psychological disorders, namely, depression. This is mainly due to the fact that anxiety disorders usually negatively impact a teen’s social life which can cause a teen to feel extreme loneliness, and ultimately, clinically depressed.
- Is your child eating less? - When a teenage girl suffers from anxiety it is not uncommon for her to have an almost non-existent appetite.
While these factors are not enough to prove or disprove an anxiety diagnosis, they are just a few of the warning signs that can allow parents of potentially anxiety-ridden to teens to find the adequate treatment for their illness.