Finding Help for Social Anxiety in Teens
An extreme fear of certain social situations most characterizes what people with social anxiety disorder experience. Also known as social phobia, social anxiety in teens can be a debilitating state to live in considering the pressures and challenges teens face in today’s world.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated eight percent of teenagers aged 13 to 18 struggles with some form of anxiety disorder. In many cases, symptom development can start as early as six years old. When left untreated, social anxiety in teens grows progressively worse, and will likely follow teens into adulthood.
Fortunately, social anxiety in teens is treatable with a range of treatment approaches available. Ultimately, the severity of symptoms experienced determines which form of treatment will work best.
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Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, offers a proven method for addressing the underlying issues that drive social anxiety in teens. CBT operates on the premise that thought patterns influence emotions and emotions dictate behaviors.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy takes a multi-pronged approach that involves:
- Managing physical symptoms of anxiety through relaxation and breathing techniques
- Countering negative thinking patterns regarding self with a more balanced perspective on self and how others perceive you
- Gradually exposing teens to anxiety-prone situations as opposed to avoiding them altogether
In effect, changing the way the mind regards social situations lessens the degree of anxiety a teen feel.
Feeling competent within social situations can be difficult for many adults, as well as teenagers. Add to this the hormonal and emotional roller coaster teens experience from day-to-day and it’s understandable how social anxiety in teens can develop.
Group therapy treatment approaches enable teens to develop their social skills through role-playing, mock interviews as well as other exercises. These practices help a teen become more comfortable and confident in his or her ability to interact in social settings. Over time, feelings of anxiety lessen as confidence levels rise.
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Symptoms of anxiety can vary in intensity with the more intense symptoms causing actual physical ailments to develop, such as stomachaches and headaches. In spite of their young age, social anxiety in teens can be debilitating, both emotionally and physically.
Over time, the effects of anxiety can alter brain chemical production levels and create an anxiety-prone chemical environment. Medication treatments help in restoring brain chemical processes back to normal.
In cases of severe anxiety, medication treatments can help lessen symptom intensity, thereby enabling teens to better engage in other forms of treatment. Medications commonly used to treat social anxiety in teens include:
- Beta blockers
Self-help options may work well in cases where symptom severity hasn’t yet reach the point where physical ailments have taken shape. Ultimately, self-help approaches use the same techniques and practices used in group therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy, such as:
- Identifying unhealthy thinking patterns
- Replacing negative thoughts with a more balanced perspective
- Gradual exposure to anxiety-provoking situations
The good news is social anxiety in teens is quite treatable provided your teen makes a conscious effort to implement the techniques learned within his or her daily life. We can help you find treatment. Call toll free today.