01/03/2024

Ask a group of teens how they’re feeling, and you’ll likely hear words like stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious. In fact, anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in adolescents today. While teen angst has been around since the dawn of time, experts say what’s happening these days is different and a worrying trend. Dr. John Piacentini of the UCLA CARES program, a center dedicated to childhood anxiety, says: About 20 percent of children had clinical anxiety disorder. Since the start of the pandemic, we think it’s increased to 35%, maybe even 40%, those are big numbers. Piacentini was one of the experts who spoke at the recent AIM Youth Mental Health Symposium held at the Monterey Conference Center. He likens anxiety to nature’s car alarm, it keeps us aware of potential threats and we can act accordingly, but teenagers these days are getting all kinds of unfiltered information coming at them non-stop. Children are bombarded with these fear and danger signals from all over the world. There is so much more to worry about and they never have a break. All they see in their world is something dangerous or something bad is about to happen and it’s taking a toll on the kids,” Piacentini said. Anxiety disorders come in a variety of flavors. For young children, the Separation anxiety can elicit real fear.Phobias are a fear of a specific thing or situation, such as dogs or going to the dentist.Many young people suffer from social anxiety.They feel uncomfortable in social situations.Some may be afraid of the future , and yet, others may experience panic attacks. Any of these disorders can be debilitating, and experts say it’s important for parents, teachers and those who work with children to realize that in most cases these adolescents do not they are overly dramatic. Their feelings of fear are very real. Piacentini says, Anxiety and panic disorders are real things. While there may not be acute danger, these children feel as if they are in a dangerous situation and are going to something bad happen. Their anxiety is real. Dr. Ramona Friedman, a clinical psychologist who also spoke at the AIM symposium, is an expert in treating anxiety disorders in children, and while there are challenges, she says effective treatments are available. It’s a big challenge right now. There are so many struggling young people and there are a limited number of professionals qualified to treat anxiety disorders. The most effective treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, with a big emphasis on what’s called exposure response prevention, and basically that means teaching children and their families the skills to know what to do with that anxiety. And most of the time, that’s stepping into their anxiety and practicing those important skills with not only the youngsters but their parents as well because anxious children have anxious parents. Learning to cope with fear and dealing with it, with the help of a therapist, is at the heart of cognitive behavioral therapy. Friedman says it works. CBT is evidence-based. It’s been studied for decades now and it really is the gold standard,” Friedman said. There are still a small number of therapists trained to address anxiety disorders, so Friedman says it’s more important than ever to try to address the anxiety before it reaches the level that requires that type of intervention. She says there are simple things parents and teachers can do to help. Listen to teens and acknowledge their feelings. Talk about what makes them anxious. Give them space to be imperfect.He also says self-care, diet, exercise, and downtime are all important aspects of mental health, but if anxiety persists, seek professional help.Teens with anxiety disorders are vulnerable to risky behaviour, depression, isolation, poor academic performance and even physical ailments.KSBW 8 is highlighting the struggles young people face when it comes to their mental health and the community organizations that lend a hand. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health, we’ve compiled a list of Central Coast resources that can help. Directory of local youth mental health resources

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Ask a group of teens how they’re feeling, and you’ll likely hear words like stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious. In fact, anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in adolescents today.

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While teen angst has been around since the dawn of time, experts say what’s happening these days is different and a worrying trend. Dr. John Piacentini of the UCLA CARES program, a center dedicated to childhood anxiety, says: About 20 percent of children had clinical anxiety disorder. Since the start of the pandemic, we think it’s increased to 35%, maybe even 40%, those are big numbers.

Piacentini was one of the experts who spoke at the recent AIM Youth Mental Health Symposium held at the Monterey Conference Center. He likens anxiety to nature’s car alarm, it keeps us aware of potential threats and we can act accordingly, but teenagers these days are getting all kinds of unfiltered information coming at them non-stop.

Children are bombarded with these fear and danger signals from all over the world. There is so much more to worry about and they never have a break. All they see in their world is something dangerous or something bad is about to happen and it’s taking a toll on the children,” Piacentini said.

Anxiety disorders come in a variety of flavors. For young children, separation anxiety can elicit real fear. Phobias are a fear of a specific thing or situation, such as dogs or going to the dentist. Many young people suffer from social anxiety.

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I am uncomfortable in social situations. Some may be afraid of the future and others may experience panic attacks. Each of these disorders can be debilitating, and experts say it’s important for parents, teachers, and those who work with children to realize that in most cases, these teens aren’t overly dramatic.

Their feelings of fear are very real. Piacentini says: Anxiety disorders and panic are real things. While there may not be acute danger, these children feel as if they are in a dangerous situation and something bad is about to happen. Their anxiety is real.

Dr. Ramona Friedman, a clinical psychologist who also spoke at the AIM symposium, is an expert in treating anxiety disorders in children, and while there are challenges, she says effective treatments are available.

It’s a big challenge right now. There are so many struggling young people and there are a limited number of professionals qualified to treat anxiety disorders.

The most effective treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, with a big emphasis on what’s called exposure response prevention, and basically that means teaching children and their families the skills to know what to do with that anxiety. And most of the time, that’s stepping into their anxiety and practicing those important skills with not only the youngsters but their parents as well because anxious children have anxious parents.

Learning to cope with fear and dealing with it, with the help of a therapist, is at the heart of cognitive behavioral therapy. Friedman says it works.

CBT is evidence-based. It’s been studied for decades now and it really is the gold standard,” Friedman said.

There are still a small number of therapists trained to address anxiety disorders, so Friedman says it’s more important than ever to try to address anxiety before it reaches the level that requires that type of intervention. He says there are simple things parents and teachers can do to help. He listens to teenagers and acknowledges their feelings.

Talk about what makes them anxious. Allow them space to be imperfect. He also says self-care, diet, exercise and downtime are all important aspects of mental health, but if anxiety persists, get professional help. Teens with anxiety disorders are vulnerable to risk-taking behavior, depression, isolation, poor academic performance, and even physical ailments.


KSBW 8 is highlighting the struggles young people face when it comes to their mental health and the community organizations that lend a hand.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health, we’ve compiled a list of Central Coast resources that can help.

Directory of local youth mental health resources

#Youth #Mental #Health #Anxiety #real

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