Treating anxiety

How do know you if you have anxiety disorder?

You may be the one to notice that you are bothered by something or that you have problems, but it may also be your parents or teachers at school who notice this. The first action often taken is visiting a general practitioner or the Youth Care Agency (Bureau Jeugdzorg). If they think that you might have anxiety disorder, you will be referred to a psychologist and/or psychiatrist. By conducting interviews and tests, they will examine where your problems come from and how you can be helped. It is possible that your problems are related not only to anxiety disorder, but also to other things. For example, you may also be quick to become sad, somber or hyperactive.

Will it go away?

Everyone is different. There are different types of anxiety, and some types go away more easily than others. In some cases, you will continue to have problems with anxiety as you get older.

Treatment

When your problems are better identified, a psychologist will work with you and your parents to design a good plan to help you feel better. It may be that you will also talk with a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is a doctor who decides whether you also need medication to help you feel better. There are different types of treatment:

For yourself

  • Psychoeducation and motivation: You learn about what exactly your problems are and how they come about. This helps you deal with them better and gain more self-confidence. You also talk about the advantages and disadvantages of treatment and what will happen if you change your behaviour.
  • Behavioural therapy: Behavioural therapy helps you learn how to deal with anxiety on your own. This means that you learn how best to act in various situations. Behavioural therapy can take the form of individual or group sessions. In these sessions, you are assigned tasks which help you learn what to do to feel less afraid.The manual Denken + Doen = Durven (‘Thinking + Doing = Daring’) by Susan M. Bogels states: Behavioural therapy teaches you to think differently. Why? When you suffer from excessive anxiety, you are often afraid of things that can’t even happen. You imagine things that don’t make sense or don’t exist, like ghosts or certain catastrophes. Training teaches you to examine your fearful thoughts. If they don’t make sense, you replace them with thoughts that help you overcome your fear. What else do you learn? Instead of avoiding a particular situation, you can in fact deliberately put yourself in the situation. This helps you become accustomed to your fear and discover whether the catastrophe you’re afraid of will actually happen. You don’t do this all at once; it is a step-by-step process. 
  • Medication: If therapy doesn’t produce adequate results, you may also receive medication. This medication helps you feel less afraid. Keep in mind that the medication you take can have adverse effects, which means that you may actually begin to experience other problems. However, this medication is not often administered to young people.

For your parents

It is also very important that your parents know what the problem is and how they can deal with it. Your parents learn, for example, how they can help you with some things.

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