Living with a family member who has an anxiety disorder can be a challenge in itself. Many times, family members will focus all their support to the adolescent with the disorder and consequently neglecting other members of the household, leading to resentment or feelings of rejection. Often parents will develop a sense of guilt or blame themselves, and wonder if they had a part to play in the development of the disorder.
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Research suggests that family boundaries are reevaluated when a family member is struggling with an anxiety disorder (Dikec, Ergun & Gumus, 2018). For example, an adolescent with severe panic attacks is unlikely to care for themselves and other family members may in turn accumulate additional responsibilities in the home. When the change in responsibilities occur in an unnegotiated manner, this can cause strain in the form of stress, tension and further resentment (Dikec, Ergun & Gumus, 2018).
There are two common approaches families take to help cope when their adolescent develops anxiety: the overbearing, intrusive parent or the uninvolved, get over it parent. Very rarely does a supportive and empathetic family who is supportive of treatment come along. The majority of the time, families who are open to treatment usually identify as White American; they will seek treatment and expect the therapist to fix their child. These families are cooperative yet not involved in treatment. Contrary to the overbearing family, the get over it family, commonly linked to Hispanic Americans and African Americans, rejects the idea that the adolescent has developed the disorder and acknowledges the symptoms as a phase (Bettis et al., 2018).
There are numerous Evidenced-Based Interventions such as Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT), acceptance commitment therapy (ACT), and exposure therapy that help reduce symptoms of anxiety disorders. However, research has demonstrated that despite the newly integrated evidenced based practices, individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), has proven to be one of the most effective treatments not only in treating the symptoms but addressing the underlying reasons for the excessive fears (Sheets et al.,
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