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Dealing With Anxiety in Children and Young Adults

Anxiety is a common problem that can affect anyone at any age. But it can be especially problematic for children and young adults.

It’s normal to worry about the future, but if your anxiety starts to interfere with your daily life or gets worse over time, it’s important to get help. Talk to your doctor or mental health specialist about getting a diagnosis of anxiety and finding ways to manage it.

Causes and Risk Factors

Anxiety disorders are caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors. They often begin in childhood and are more likely to occur in people who have a family history of the condition. Some risk factors you can’t change, such as personality traits and a past mental health disorder, but others you can control.

Life events such as being abused or having an injury are also linked to anxiety disorders. These experiences may change the way you feel about yourself and your world, causing your brain to develop a new circuit that causes anxious thoughts.

Other environmental stressors, such as having a physical illness or disability, can make your anxiety problems worse. This is called a vicious cycle.

Some medications can reduce the symptoms of anxiety. The drugs can work by reducing the release of certain chemicals in your body that are thought to trigger anxiety.

Medications can be used alone or in combination with psychotherapy (talk therapy) and relaxation exercises. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy, is one of the most effective forms of treatment for anxiety disorders.

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Exposure therapy, another form of CBT, helps you learn to confront your fears so that they don’t keep you from doing things you need to do. This can include going to work or talking with people in a group.

Complementary health techniques, such as mindfulness, yoga and meditation, are also helpful. Many people who suffer from anxiety disorders have other mental health conditions, so combining therapies is sometimes helpful.

Exercise can be a positive way to reduce stress and increase energy. It can also improve sleep and boost your mood.

Quitting smoking or drinking can also help to relax and reduce stress. If you need to quit, it’s best to talk with your doctor or a support group to help you make the transition.

Anxiety and Drug Use

Alcohol and drugs can both make you more anxious or prone to experiencing panic attacks. If you’re addicted, it’s especially important to quit these substances. It can be difficult to stop, but it’s worth it in the long run if your anxiety is getting out of hand.

Some drugs can be useful in treating an anxiety disorder, such as antidepressants or benzodiazepines. If you’re taking these types of medication, you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist about how to take them safely and avoid side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth and weight gain.

Keeping a journal can also be useful in coping with anxiety. It can help you track your emotions and remember when a specific anxiety episode is happening.

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