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AGORAPHOBIA IN ADOLESCENCE
Agoraphobia is a type of panic disorder in which a young person experiences extreme fears of entering public, and especially crowded, places.
Teens with agoraphobia may also experience severe fear surrounding traveling, either long or short, distances. This particular panic disorder will often result in teenagers avoiding daily situations. Due to the fact that it is difficult for a teen with agoraphobia to feel safe because of his or her irrational fear of being trapped, embarrassed, and or helpless in a public place. Agoraphobia can develop at any stage of one’s life, but most commonly the symptoms will begin in one’s adolescence. It is highly common for young people with agoraphobia to experience panic attacks. This can contribute to the avoidance of leaving one’s comfort zone, as he or she may also fear having a panic attack in public.
There are many symptoms that can arise for a teenager with agoraphobia. Symptoms can be exhibited if a young person is presented with the opportunity to leave his or her comfort zone, and or if a teenager is in a location that he or she has deemed crowded, unfamiliar, and or without access to an easy escape. The examples below are symptoms that may occur in teens with agoraphobia:
• Excessive sweating
• Elevated heart rate
• Heart palpitations
• Paresthesia (feelings of pins and needs in one’s extremities)
• Extreme worry and or fear
• Panic attacks
• Chest pain
The primary symptom of agoraphobia is the strong need to avoid public, crowded or unfamiliar places. It is common for the symptoms listed above to subside or significantly reduce after a teen has left the uncomfortable scene and returned to his or her home.
It is always essential when dealing with mental health situations, especially in regards to a young person, to seek the proper guidance from a mental health professional. Teenagers lead challenging lives, and distinguishing between normal teenage turmoil and mental health disorders can be nuanced. Educating oneself on mental health disorders, and being aware of the goings-on of your teen is crucial. Should there be concern, do not attempt to self-diagnose. Helping your teenager get evaluated by a clinical mental health professional is imperative for an accurate diagnosis.
At Pacific Teen Treatment, we insure a personalized treatment program for each of our participants. The most widely used methods of treatment for a young person with agoraphobia include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and relaxation techniques. Medication is rarely used as a form of treatment for agoraphobia. Often we will use a combination of therapeutic modalities to make up each teen’s treatment plan. Cognitive behavioral therapy works by helping a young person recognize his or her distorted and unhealthy thought processes, resulting in poor behavioral patterns, and adjust them to create healthier thoughts and subsequent behaviors. Through dialectical behavior therapy a teenager will learn mindfulness based skills to help manage his or her emotions and improve his or her interpersonal effectiveness. Many of our therapeutic modalities are held in a one to one setting and or in a group setting. Some of the relaxation techniques that are helpful for a teen with agoraphobia include meditation, yoga, and certain forms of exercise. We also provide and encourage our residents to eat nourishing and healthy foods.
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. In order to maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Seeking support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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