Joel used to be such a happy-go-lucky young man. He excelled at school, both in academics and at sports, he had a zest for life, and he was loved by all. But slowly his personality began to change. He stopped partaking in all the sports he loved. He became withdrawn, reserved and shy. His grades began to drop. He started skipping school, and spending more and more time alone, cooped up in his bedroom, and his favorite pastimes soon became whatever kept him away from people. He started hating the outdoors, his personal hygiene became poor. He always seemed tired, and he lost lots of weight. Of course, with such massive changes, most were led to assume that poor Joel was on drugs, or up to no good. Joel so desperately wished to tell someone- anyone- how he felt, but Joel was afraid that people would laugh at him, or say he was crazy, or send him far away for terrifying therapies to get better. Joel wasn’t on drugs. And Joel was certainly not up to no good. Joel had become paralyzed with anxiety.
Joel first noticed something was wrong when out of the blue, it felt as though he were dying. He thought that he was having a heart attack, but when he got to the emergency room, and the nurses told him everything was fine, he did not believe them. Something had to be wrong with him. He could feel it. His limbs felt numb, he felt dizzy, and as though he was about to faint. His heart raced, he felt cold chills all throughout his body… And worst of all he felt absolutely terrified. A common misconception is that anxiety and a panic attack is the same thing. They are two different symptoms of the same problem, yes, but they are not interchangeable.
What Joel experienced was a panic attack, but the aftermath of that attack, his anxiety, was so much worse for him. Joel had generalized anxiety; a constant, persistent feeling of dread, and feeling of imminent death. He could not shake it and not much helped. Afraid that he would experience more panic attacks or intense attacks in public, he became withdrawn. Some days, when he felt very bad, he skipped school because he was paralyzed by fear of leaving the house. He also became very fidgety, and jumpy. He seemed breathless most times and had troubles sitting still. His image, and hygiene took a drop, and he seemed tired and unkempt. There are many teenage anxiety symptoms that are often overlooked because they are only obvious if you pay attention. Joel tried to hide it, but the changes, once they had built up, were too big to ignore and so his parents reached out to him. His journey to recovery was not easy, but once his parents made the first step, he realized that treating anxiety in adolescence was not painful or scary at all.
To treat his anxiety, Joel first had to understand what anxiety is. Anxiety is normal in humans. Everyone experiences it at some or another point in their lives. When you watch a scary movie, and then feel chills crawl up your spine when you walk down dark hallways; when you wait for results from a test you think you have failed; when you worry about someone. When people find themselves in scary, or unpleasant and dangerous situations, our bodies release adrenaline. This is to help us with our fight or flight response. When we feel threatened, we subconsciously prepare to either fight for survival or run away. The only problem is, sometimes our bodies overreact and sense threats where they don’t exist.
With anxiety and panic attacks, our bodies release too much adrenaline, which triggers the fight or flight. Since there is no threat, we feel a sense a dread we cannot explain, and this, in a vicious cycle, makes us feel even more anxious. Panic attacks are terrifying, and they are difficult to recover from or talk yourself out of. Sometimes, we are so frightened by them, as with Joel, that they change us and we live in constant fear. But help is available. No child should live in fear, and North Star Treatment is here to ensure that teens have access to proper treatment for anxiety in adolescence.
North Star Treatment Center focuses on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy- a method of treatment that requires no medication or medical procedures. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy changes the thought patterns of the patient and turns negative thoughts and feelings into positive ones, thereby breaking the cycle of anxiety and destructive behavior. It is a highly effective therapy, proven time and time again to better the lives of those with anxiety and depression, and is safe for children. Not only does North Star Treatment Center assist with the youth in their journey of recovery, but patients will have a safe place to stay, where they are loved and cared for. They will also have access to our educational facilities so that they won’t fall behind in their academics.
Parents are urged to watch out for warning signs of anxiety in their children. 80% of adolescents with anxiety are not getting the treatment they need. If you suspect your child is struggling with anxiety, there are simple things you can do at home that might help them feel better. Talk to them, and encourage them to talk to you. Talking helps a lot. Take them for a check- up, just in case. Anxiety has so many physical symptoms it can easily be mistaken for something else. Take care of them- a good diet and proper sleep can work wonders. Most importantly, stay calm. If the symptoms of your child’s anxiety persist, North Star Treatment Center will welcome them with open arms.