Anxiety Treatment for Young Adults and Adolescents

Understanding Anxiety

Anxiety is a complex and multifaceted mental health condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide. It is characterized by persistent and excessive worrying, fear, or apprehension that can interfere with daily life. To better understand anxiety, let's explore what it is and the prevalence of anxiety disorders.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal and adaptive response to stress or danger. It serves as a protective mechanism, alerting us to potential threats and preparing our bodies to respond. However, when anxiety becomes chronic, overwhelming, and disproportionate to the actual threat, it can significantly impact an individual's well-being and functioning.

Anxiety disorders encompass various conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. Each disorder is characterized by specific symptoms and triggers, but they all share the common thread of excessive and persistent anxiety.

Individuals with anxiety disorders may experience physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, and gastrointestinal discomfort. They may also struggle with intrusive thoughts, excessive worry, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances.

Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are prevalent worldwide, impacting individuals of all ages and backgrounds. In the United States alone, approximately 40 million adults, or about 18.1% of the population, are affected by anxiety disorders [1]. Furthermore, it is estimated that more than 25 million adults in the U.S. also suffer from depression, often co-occurring with anxiety.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of the most common anxiety disorders, with a reported lifetime prevalence rate of up to 7% in the general population. The global lifetime total prevalence rate of GAD is 3.7%, with an annual prevalence rate of 1.8% and a monthly prevalence rate of 0.8%. Additionally, GAD has a high comorbidity rate of 81.9%, meaning it often coexists with other mental health conditions.

Anxiety disorders can have a significant impact on an individual's quality of life, relationships, and overall functioning. Despite the prevalence of anxiety disorders, it is concerning that a large percentage of individuals do not seek help. Studies suggest that approximately 75% of adults with anxiety or depression do not seek treatment.

By understanding the nature of anxiety and its prevalence, individuals can recognize the importance of seeking appropriate support and treatment. It is crucial to remember that anxiety disorders are treatable, and effective interventions are available to help individuals manage their symptoms and improve their well-being.

Alternative Treatments for Anxiety

When it comes to managing anxiety, there are alternative treatments that can be effective in reducing symptoms and promoting overall well-being. These treatments focus on holistic approaches to address anxiety, taking into consideration the mind-body connection. Here are several alternative treatments that have shown promise in helping individuals with anxiety:

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation has gained significant attention in recent years for its potential in reducing symptoms of anxiety. A 2014 review of 47 trials involving 3,515 participants found that mindfulness meditation was effective, particularly for individuals with depression, pain, and cancer. By practicing mindfulness, individuals learn to focus their attention on the present moment, cultivating awareness of their thoughts and feelings without judgment. This practice can help individuals develop a greater sense of calm and reduce anxiety.

Yoga for Anxiety

Yoga has been found to significantly reduce anxiety in multiple studies. A 2019 review of 13 studies involving 1,080 participants found that yoga had a positive impact on anxiety, particularly in relation to the inflammatory and immune stress responses [4]. The combination of physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation in yoga practice promotes relaxation, reduces muscle tension, and enhances overall well-being.

Acupuncture for Anxiety

Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese practice, has been found to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety. A review of 56 studies with a total of 4,060 participants concluded that acupuncture was beneficial for anxiety reduction [4]. By inserting thin needles into specific points on the body, acupuncture aims to rebalance the flow of energy. This process is believed to stimulate the body's natural healing mechanisms and promote a sense of calm and relaxation.

Aromatherapy for Anxiety

Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. Certain scents, such as lavender, have been shown to have a calming effect. Inhaling lavender oil has been found to reduce heart rate and blood pressure, inducing a more relaxed state. Aromatherapy can be incorporated into daily routines through the use of diffusers, candles, or diluted essential oils applied to the skin.

Massage Therapy for Anxiety

Massage therapy is known for its ability to promote relaxation and reduce stress. A 2017 review of 15 studies found that massage therapy significantly lowered anxiety levels. The manipulation of soft tissues and muscles during massage helps to release tension and increase blood flow, leading to a sense of calm and well-being. Regular massage sessions can provide individuals with a dedicated time for relaxation and self-care.

These alternative treatments offer individuals with anxiety a range of options to explore in their journey towards finding relief and serenity. It's important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another, so it may require some experimentation to find the most effective treatment approach. Consulting with a healthcare professional or a qualified practitioner in each respective field can provide additional guidance and personalized recommendations.

Evidence-Based Therapies for Anxiety

When it comes to treating anxiety, evidence-based therapies have shown to be highly effective in helping individuals manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being. Here are four widely recognized therapies for anxiety:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a well-established form of therapy that has proven to be effective in treating anxiety and related disorders. CBT focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thinking and behavior patterns that contribute to anxiety.

Through CBT, individuals learn to challenge negative thoughts and develop more realistic and adaptive ways of thinking. This therapy also encourages individuals to engage in behaviors that promote positive change and help them overcome their anxiety.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure Therapy is another highly effective form of therapy for anxiety disorders. This therapy involves gradually exposing individuals to situations or objects that trigger their anxiety in a safe and controlled environment.

The goal of exposure therapy is to help individuals confront their fears and anxieties, allowing them to learn that their anxiety responses can decrease over time [5]. By facing their fears, individuals can develop healthier coping mechanisms and reduce the impact of anxiety on their daily lives.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a newer form of therapy that has gained recognition for its effectiveness in treating anxiety. ACT focuses on helping individuals accept what is out of their control and commit to actions that improve their life.

This therapy combines mindfulness techniques with strategies to identify personal values and take meaningful steps towards living a more fulfilling life. By cultivating psychological flexibility and learning to be present in the moment, individuals can reduce the impact of anxiety and develop a more positive relationship with their thoughts and emotions.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder. However, it has also shown effectiveness in helping individuals with anxiety disorders.

DBT teaches skills for mindfulness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance, which are particularly beneficial for managing anxiety symptoms [5]. By learning these skills, individuals can better cope with anxiety-provoking situations, regulate their emotional responses, and increase their overall resilience.

These evidence-based therapies offer individuals a range of effective tools and techniques to manage their anxiety and improve their quality of life. It's important to consult with a mental health professional who can guide you in selecting the most suitable therapy based on your specific needs and preferences. Remember, everyone's journey is unique, and finding the right therapy may require some exploration and experimentation.

Medication for Anxiety

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

For individuals with moderate to severe anxiety disorders, medication may be prescribed in combination with therapy to provide effective treatment [5]. Two commonly prescribed classes of medications for anxiety are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

SSRIs and SNRIs are antidepressant medications that have also been found to be effective in treating anxiety disorders. They work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which play a role in regulating mood and anxiety.

SSRIs are often the first line of medication treatment for anxiety disorders. They are generally well-tolerated and have a lower risk of side effects compared to other classes of antidepressants. Commonly prescribed SSRIs include:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)

SNRIs, on the other hand, work by blocking the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine, leading to increased levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain. This dual mechanism of action may provide additional benefits for individuals with both anxiety and depression symptoms. Some commonly prescribed SNRIs for anxiety include:

  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)

It's important to note that while medication can be an effective tool in managing anxiety, it is typically used in conjunction with therapy and lifestyle changes. Medication alone does not provide a permanent cure for anxiety and should not be relied upon as the sole treatment option.

Additionally, some medications, including anti-anxiety medications, may have dependence or addiction concerns with prolonged use [1]. Therefore, it's essential to work closely with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate medication and dosage for your specific needs.

It's important to keep in mind that the effectiveness and tolerability of medications can vary from person to person. Finding the right medication and dosage may require some trial and error under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Regular communication with your healthcare provider is crucial to monitor the effects of the medication and make any necessary adjustments.

Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting or discontinuing any medication for anxiety. They will be able to assess your specific situation and provide personalized recommendations for the most appropriate course of treatment.

Lifestyle Changes for Managing Anxiety

In addition to therapy and medication, making certain lifestyle changes can play a significant role in managing anxiety. By incorporating healthy habits into daily life, individuals can reduce anxiety symptoms and improve overall well-being. Here are some lifestyle changes that can be beneficial for managing anxiety:

Exercise for Anxiety

Exercise has been found to be effective in elevating mood and reducing symptoms of depression. Numerous research studies have also shown improvements in anxiety symptoms with increased physical activity, especially mindful movements like yoga, tai chi, and qigong [6]. Engaging in regular exercise helps release endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. It also promotes better sleep, increases self-confidence, and provides a healthy outlet for stress.

Even incorporating simple activities like walking into daily routine can have significant benefits. Just 30 minutes of walking a day can reduce the risk for major chronic diseases, including anxiety and depression. Establishing a walking program and maintaining it for a minimum of 6 months can lead to long-term benefits [6].

Nutrition and Anxiety

Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for overall well-being, including mental health. A poor diet may provoke symptoms of anxiety or depression, as the brain needs a steady stream of nutrients to function and produce neurotransmitters. Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to anxiety and depression.

Incorporating a well-balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can support brain health and stabilize mood. Avoiding processed foods, excessive sugar, and caffeine can also help in managing anxiety symptoms. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietician for personalized dietary recommendations.

Sleep and Anxiety

Getting adequate sleep is essential for maintaining good mental health. Poor sleep has a significant effect on mood, as the neurotransmitters required to support mood are replenished during sleep. Individuals who don’t sleep adequately are more likely to develop major depression, and sleep-deprived individuals are more prone to anxiety [6].

Establishing a consistent sleep routine, practicing good sleep hygiene, and creating a relaxing sleep environment can promote better sleep. Avoiding electronic devices before bed, keeping a regular sleep schedule, and engaging in relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation can also be beneficial.

Alcohol and Anxiety

While some individuals may turn to alcohol as a temporary escape from anxiety, it is important to note that alcohol can exacerbate anxiety symptoms. People suffering from anxiety or depression should limit or avoid alcohol consumption. Alcohol use can disrupt sleep patterns, worsen mood, and contribute to feelings of depression [6].

It is crucial to seek healthier coping mechanisms and support systems when managing anxiety rather than relying on alcohol as a solution. If alcohol use is a concern, it may be beneficial to reach out to a healthcare professional or seek support from counseling services or support groups.

By incorporating exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, prioritizing sleep, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, individuals can make positive lifestyle changes that contribute to the effective management of anxiety. These lifestyle changes, alongside evidence-based therapies and professional guidance, can provide a comprehensive approach to addressing anxiety symptoms and improving overall well-being.

Seeking Help for Anxiety

When dealing with anxiety, seeking professional help is an important step towards finding relief and improving overall well-being. Overcoming barriers to seeking help, understanding the benefits of therapy, and considering the combination of medication and therapy are all essential aspects to consider.

Overcoming Barriers to Seeking Help

Many individuals face barriers when it comes to seeking help for their anxiety. These barriers may include stigma, fear of judgment, lack of awareness about available treatment options, financial constraints, or simply not knowing where to start. It's important to recognize that seeking help is a sign of strength and that support is available.

One effective way to overcome these barriers is by educating oneself about anxiety and its treatment options. Understanding that anxiety is a common mental health condition that can affect anyone can help reduce stigma and encourage seeking help. Exploring reputable sources of information, such as mental health organizations or professional therapists, can provide valuable insights and guidance.

Additionally, reaching out to trusted friends, family members, or healthcare professionals for support and recommendations can be a crucial step in finding the right treatment for anxiety. Taking small, manageable steps towards seeking help, such as making an initial consultation appointment with a therapist, can gradually break down barriers and open the door to effective treatment.

The Benefits of Therapy for Anxiety

Therapy plays a vital role in the treatment of anxiety. While medication can provide temporary relief, therapy can delve deeper and address the underlying issues contributing to anxiety. According to GoodTherapy, therapy can assist in identifying the root cause of anxiety by exploring past experiences, traumatic events, habits, or existential questions.

By working with a trained therapist, individuals can gain a better understanding of what triggers their anxiety and develop effective coping mechanisms. Therapy can help individuals learn techniques to manage anxiety symptoms, challenge negative thought patterns, and promote personal growth. Unlike medication, therapy focuses on long-term solutions and addresses the underlying causes of anxiety.

Furthermore, therapy is considered low-risk compared to medication. While medication may come with side effects and risks, therapy is a safe and effective treatment option for anxiety. It provides individuals with a supportive and non-judgmental space to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, leading to improved overall mental health and well-being.

Combining Medication and Therapy for Anxiety

In some cases, a combination of medication and therapy may be recommended for the treatment of anxiety. Research suggests that the combination of psychotherapy and medication is more effective than medication alone in treating anxiety disorders. While medication can help manage symptoms and provide temporary relief, therapy addresses the underlying causes and provides long-term solutions.

Combining medication and therapy can be particularly beneficial for individuals with severe anxiety symptoms or those who have not found sufficient relief from medication alone.

Therapy can help individuals learn to manage anxiety without relying solely on medication and reduce the risk of developing a tolerance to medication. Additionally, therapy can assist individuals in coping with the emotional and mental aspects of anxiety, promoting personal growth, and providing tools for long-term management.

It's important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable treatment approach based on individual needs and circumstances. The combination of medication and therapy should be tailored to each individual to ensure the best possible outcome in managing anxiety.

Seeking help for anxiety is a courageous step towards finding serenity. By overcoming barriers to seeking help, recognizing the benefits of therapy, and considering the combination of medication and therapy, individuals can embark on a path toward effective anxiety treatment and improved well-being.









Contact Kiwi Recovery for a Better Approach to Anxiety Treatment

Getting started is as simple as giving our team a call. We’ll walk with you every step of the way as you navigate the treatment process. From assistance with insurance to help building a treatment schedule that fits your loved one’s life, we’re here to ensure your teen or young adult receives the care and support they need. At Kiwi Recovery, we aim to help teens and young adults with anxiety build a better tomorrow. Contact us today at 617.545.3344 or reach out online to get started. There’s a better future waiting.