Teen Anxiety Treatment Programs: A Comprehensive Guide
Teens struggle with anxiety for a number of reasons, and it can take a variety of forms. Anxiety may come from daily life, relationships, or even changing up their schedule. Whatever the cause may be, anxiety often limits self-esteem and can make teens feel stuck and hopeless. While stress can be an adaptive response to these life events, experiencing anxiety can lead to depression, low self-esteem, and unhealthy coping mechanisms over time.
Anxiety itself represents a challenge that often must be overcome with professional help. Unfortunately, this condition rarely exists on its own. Instead, it often leads to other problems, such as withdrawal, depression, and/or self-medication. Because of this, it’s crucial to understand the underlying causes of all these problems. Anxiety treatment centers for teens such as Red Mountain Colorado can help.
If you are interested in learning more about how our mindfulness-based program may be a good fit for your teen, this guide is meant to be comprehensive, but as such, not every section will be applicable to everyone. Instead, we invite you to click on the links in the table of contents to jump to the sections that most interest you.
Adolescence is a critical period in one’s life where teens begin to establish habits and coping mechanisms that they will carry with them for the rest of their life. While their parents may have tried to take care of their “problems” when they were younger, teenagers often become overwhelmed by stress in high school–whether it is related to school work, relationships, identity issues, or traumatic life events–when they feel like they have to manage these stressors on their own.
During this period, teens are still developing the area of their brain that is responsible for rational decision-making, which means they are more vulnerable to making impulsive decisions. When they are experiencing stress or anxiety, they are even more likely to act without thinking.
Learning healthier ways to cope with stress and anxiety as a teenager can help teens establish healthier patterns that they will continue to use as an adult. Choosing an anxiety treatment center just for teens means that professionals are trained to use developmentally-appropriate strategies to help your teen address their anxiety.
Anxiety in teens refers to an intense, overwhelming feeling of physical stress that seems disproportionate to the situation they are worried about. Most people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder struggle with generalized anxiety and may become anxious in any number of situations, but there are also other types of anxiety disorders that are related to a more specific trigger. Understanding what triggers your teen’s anxiety can help them work on overcoming their fears.
Those who suffer from general anxiety experience excessive worrying, often without any true cause. Compared to people who struggle with specific fears and phobias, teens with generalized anxiety may hop from worry to worry when one fear seems to be resolved, which reinforces the cycle of anxiety.
They project their thoughts into the future and imagine that something negative will happen unless they can find a way to prevent it. While it may be healthy to plan ahead and prepare for tomorrow in a thoughtful way, generalized anxiety can paralyze the person who deals with it, so that they actually fail to take action to mitigate the situation that concerns them.
Social anxiety is common to many people at different ages, and it is often mistaken for simple “shyness.” However, it is really much more debilitating than being a little uncomfortable with others.
Young people with social anxiety experience an acute awareness of what their peers think of them and where they “fit” into the world as they pull away from their parents and begin to forge their own identities. A healthy respect for the opinions of others can, however, easily escalate into a deep fear of being judged in social situations. For some, the obvious solution to social anxiety is to avoid or minimize interactions with others. While this relieves the immediate stress, it cannot be a long-term solution because all of us need to find effective ways to function within the broader society.
One way to manage excessive anxiety is to stick with a rigid routine. If a person is worried about what might happen on a given day, it can be comforting to establish a fixed schedule and stick to it. If all goes well, activities that have been safe in the past will be safe in the future. Having a routine and staying committed to it can be a healthy way for anyone to manage their time effectively, but the anxious person finds it difficult to cope with any disruption of their routine, and unexpected events are just a part of life. For this reason, effective functioning requires that anxious people also develop some resiliency in the face of uncertainty.
The Red Mountain Colorado Approach: Leading Teen Anxiety Treatment Centers
At Red Mountain Colorado, one of the leading teen anxiety treatment centers, we do not take a one-size-fits-all approach to any of our students’ problems, and the same is true for anxiety. We treat different types of anxiety in different ways, offering significant opportunities for students to work on activities of daily living, self-care, and social interaction that relieve this crippling condition. Above all else, Red Mountain is a supportive community, offering numerous chances for adventure therapy, communal meals, and group activities. For anxious students, the realization that they will not be judged and that they are in a safe environment is a great relief and allows them, perhaps for the first time, to concentrate on their own healing.
These opportunities help our students to leave their isolation, reduce worrying thoughts, and reach a level of self-sufficiency with respect to both positive peer interaction and responsible self-care. Martial arts training, in particular, builds assertiveness and self-confidence. Anxiety is a form of fear, and martial arts students often report that they have not only overcome physical fears but also emotional and psychological worries.
Anxiety and Unhealthy Coping in Teens
Young people who are suffering from excessive anxiety frequently use negative coping behaviors to cover up aspects of themselves that they dislike. The Red Mountain Colorado approach to teen anxiety treatment teaches students to live successfully, while also working on the emotional exploration and maturation needed to no longer feel the need to self-medicate. Over time, as a client’s self-esteem and coping skills improve, and the anxiety weakens its hold, the need to use negative coping behaviors often subsides.
Clinically, we use cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT) to treat significant anxiety issues, as well as additional mindfulness-based techniques, such as meditation and yoga. The goal is to increase self-regulation and feelings of calm and focus while enhancing self-esteem. CBT focuses on finding solutions to psychological problems by modifying thoughts, behaviors, or feelings. From that starting point, we help guide the client over time into a greater sense of belonging in the world, as we help him or her to worry less while processing emotions in healthier ways.
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Mindfulness Teaches Healthier Ways to Manage Stress
As anxiety often manifests physically before teens register their anxious thoughts, strategies like mindfulness and meditation can help teens become more aware of their thoughts while calming their nervous systems. Focusing on the breath can help send oxygen to areas of the body where teens are experiencing more tension and helps them release anxious energy.
At Red Mountain Colorado, our trained meditation teachers offer daily group meditation practices, where teens learn to co-regulate. We believe that, as humans, we are very sensitive to other people’s energy. Practicing mindfulness in a group setting helps teens build social awareness, match their energy to other people’s energy, and stay accountable in maintaining a consistent practice.
Mindfulness goes beyond breathing techniques and somatic ways of managing anxiety. Red Mountain Colorado’s clinical programming is influenced by Buddhist lessons on being present, caring for others, recognizing the impermanence of all things, and teen’s capacity for change, which can help teens challenge their anxious thoughts.
Instead of turning to negative coping mechanisms when overwhelmed, teens learn how to be more accepting of their experience, name uncomfortable physical sensations and negative thoughts, and try to let go of the control anxiety often has over their decision-making.
Teen Anxiety Treatment Programs: A Comprehensive Guide
Red Mountain Colorado is a leading residential treatment center for teens ages 13-17, built on the shoulders of some of the most experienced and well-respected individuals in the field of adolescent and young adult treatment.