In this month’s first blog, we addressed a disturbing trend in American society, where roughly one third of children and teenagers now experience anxiety disorders. Pressure to achieve, social media usage, and events such as school shootings all seem to play a role in making today’s youth more and more anxious about their day-to-day lives.
To exacerbate the situation, most kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder and not getting treatment. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80% of kids with anxiety disorders are not being treated. As with most disorders and problems, early treatment also makes this so much easier to treat.
At Monuments, many of our young men come to us with anxiety disorders, often in combination with other issues they are addressing.
What are the best ways to treat anxiety disorders?
As mentioned above, it’s best to begin treating an anxiety disorder as early on as it is spotted. That way some of the negative thought processes haven’t had time to become fully ingrained in the teenager. Research shows the two most effective means for treating anxiety disorders are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy — CBT focuses on changing the thought processes of the young man. This involves changing the way the young man thinks about his fear, increasing exposure to feared situations, along with the incorporation of various relaxation strategies such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and positive self-talk (repeating positive and reassuring statements to oneself). Exposure therapy is one focus of CBT that increases exposure to feared objects or activities.
- SSRIs — These commonly prescribed antidepressants are effective for treating anxiety disorders.
Research has shown that a combination of CBT and medication for 12 weeks yields a positive response in 80 percent of young people with anxiety disorders. After 12 weeks, 65 percent of those treated show no or minimal anxiety symptoms.
At Monuments, we’ve also found our other experiential therapy techniques and equine-assisted learning techniques are effective additions to cognitive behavioral therapy for our young men with anxiety disorders. Our wilderness therapy in our beautiful setting of Parowan and the thousands of surrounding acres present a great way for our young men to let go of much of their anxiety. In this natural environment, it’s easy for teens to relax. That’s a great first step toward overcoming their anxiety.
Do you think your teenage son is suffering from an anxiety disorder? Call us at Monuments, (800) 559-1980, and let’s talk about what’s going on. We can help.