The teenage years even in the calmest families have episodes of dramatic behavior as teens learn to navigate the world about them. Unfortunately, because they are in their naturally hormonal teenage years, many diagnosis of anxiety disorders go undetected. Anxiety disorders are common among children and teens. According to the National Center of Biotechnology Information, depression within of 5 to 10 percent exist in children and adolescents. The disorder involves much more than being anxious. Physical symptoms include:
- pounding heartbeat
- tremors and twitches
- tension in muscles
Excessive worry and panic attacks envelop a person’s mood. The constant physical ailments compounded by the emotional elements makes life difficult to navigate sometimes, especially for a still developing youth.
A combination of regimens for treatment can vary slightly, by facility, but typically boil down to therapy, medication, and complementary treatment. Therapy involves a modality toolkit of cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and a host of others. Unlike adults, some teen behaviors can be a result of growing patterns or family issues exacerbating teen behavior. Medication is also used, in conjunction with therapy. Four major classes exist in medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs, serotonin with norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and benzodiazepines. Stress or trauma can change the balance of chemicals in the brain resulting in effects upon mood and physical changes. Alternative therapies are also available, adjunct to clinical therapy. These include: stress and relaxation techniques, yoga, meditation or acupuncture.
Making Room for the New
Several promising programs have begun developing, but one in particular called TAPS seems to address issues at the teen level. TAPS stands for Treatment for Anxiety and Physical Symptoms. It combines many of the complementary programs into a therapy. Beginning at New York University Child Study Center, TAPS based its philosophy on Coping Cat. Coping Cat uses age-appropriate activities, teaches names for the feelings, teaches the signs of anxiety through cartoons, and uses a method of cognitive restructure to reduce anxiety. TAPS became modified for teen use with more connections between symptoms and anxiety, using breathing to reduce pain and self-monitoring techniques. It increases parent involvement. TAPS remixes the traditional treatment program, with a different balance and a division of responsibility between the teenager and the parents.