Mindfulness-based practices are known to increase of brain gray matter in the right anterior insula. This part of the brain contains the amygdala, which plays a primary role in emotional responses and emotional regulation. Anxiety in adolescents has been identified as a risk factor for the onset of panic attacks, panic disorders, and anxiety disorders. Adolescents who experience anxiety symptoms are prone to develop anxiety pathology and feelings of unsteadiness. Adolescence represents an important part of development, and normal stressors in this stage, can affect an adolescent's psychopathology. Evidenced based treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and emotional regulation through mindfulness, are particularly effective in managing anxiety symptoms in adolescents.
Early anxiety symptoms found in adolescents have been found to lead to major depression and anxiety disorders, later in life. Anxiety symptoms interfere significantly with the daily life in adolescents. The stressful transition from childhood to adolescence reflects high levels of anxiety, often resulting in more risk taking behaviors. Adolescents that develop Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are at a much higher risk of distress and impairment throughout their life.
In an adolescent with GAD, the prefrontal and limbic systems are activated, but the amygdala does not excite the ventrolateral cortex, or the part of the brain associated with “mentalization”- the ability to understand the mental state of oneself and others. When this happens, the structures that regulate emotional and affective functions are abnormally connected, causing a major disruption in one's capacity to interpret self and others' behaviors.
Anxiety disorders left untreated in adolescents can lead to increased mental health problems and poor social and developmental outcomes. Mindfulness based approaches such as self observation, self-talk, and self evaluation have been proven to decrease anxiety symptoms, thus teaching adolescents important skills for managing anxiety symptoms.
Written By Atiya Malik from WVCC
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