Damp palms before a driving test. Nervous pacing in the locker room before a playoff game. A sleepless night before the SAT. That’s nervousness. And it fades away.
However, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a different beast. A legitimate mental disorder that creates persistent, overwhelming, and unrealistic feelings of failure, anxiety, and worry, GAD does not simply fade away like nervousness. It needs specific anxiety treatment to be effectively addressed. Patients with GAD are often consumed with thoughts of disaster that may be impossible for them to control. It can rule a teen’s life if left untreated, making activities like going to school or hanging out with friends impossible. Also, the worry and anxiety GAD causes often appears to have no source.
Like many mood disorders, it can be easy to dismiss GAD. That would be a mistake as untreated GAD can aggravate a teen’s condition, incapacitating them. It is essential that a teen battling GAD is equipped with tools to overcome the mental disorder so that they are able to live their life to the fullest. ADEONA Healthcare understands this, and therefore offers customized anxiety treatment programs for teens aged 12-17 at our Rancho San Diego residential facility.
Chronic and excessive worry and fear are the hallmarks of GAD. A teen with GAD worries about one thing: Everything. Upcoming events, social standing, relationships, classes, their health, the health of others, their appearance…merely getting through the day can exhaust a patient battling this debilitating mental disorder.
Usually manifesting between childhood and middle age, GAD affects women nearly twice as often as men. Studies have shown adolescents with GAD struggle in school, miss important social events and run a higher risk of substance abuse. Often, GAD co-occurs with other mental disorders, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression.
Younger people with GAD often do not realize they have the disorder – like many adolescent mental illness, GAD clouds reasoning and perception. This is why anxiety disorder treatment is important.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the following signs could indicate GAD:
Like every other mood disorder, there is no clear cause of GAD. The disorder seems to be caused by several variables, including genetic, familial, social, and environmental factors. Past studies have shown chemical imbalances in the brain may cause GAD in some adolescents. Also, an adolescent who has been subject to long-term abuse, such as bullying or sexual abuse, would be at greater risk of developing GAD. Personality may also play a role. According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals, who are timid, have a negative outlook or habitually avoid risks, may have a higher probability of developing GAD compared to others.
Additionally, trauma can create risk factors for GAD. A messy divorce, the sudden death of a beloved family member or a car crash can trigger anxiety, even years after the event happened. Some studies also suggest that anxiety is inheritable. An adolescent with anxious parents is much more likely to become anxious themselves, suggesting that anxiety might be a learned behavior, in some cases.
Like all other mood disorders, GAD can be dangerous if left untreated. Aside from the severely diminished quality of life GAD causes, it can drive adolescents into substance abuse and other risky behaviors for relief. This combination of disorders, that is a mental illness and an addiction is known as a dual diagnosis, and can be difficult to treat.
GAD is usually diagnosed via a mental health screening performed by a primary care provider. Once diagnosed, anxiety disorder treatment can be sought, which can be customized to suit the individual.
As bad as GAD sounds, it is also treatable. ADEONA Healthcare’s holistic philosophy of treatment means we make use of both traditional and alternative therapies to help our adolescent patients move past their problems. Psychotherapy teaches our patients new ways of looking at themselves and their surroundings. Group therapy sessions, meanwhile, allow patients to explore their anxieties and fears in the company of peers with similar struggles.
ADEONA Healthcare of Rancho San Diego offers a comfortable, pleasant environment for adolescents to heal in. Our patients have many opportunities for outdoor recreation in the sunny climate. We also offer yoga and other activities for holistic recovery. Ours is a secure anxiety disorder treatment center with around-the-clock crisis intervention, ensuring the safety of our patients at all times.