Tips for Helping Teens With Anxiety
Today, many teens deal with stress. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), teens have been under more stress now than ever. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can help teens deal with situations that are overwhelming or tense. From final exams and public speaking to social and romantic relationships and extracurricular activities, there are many aspects of teenage life that can be overwhelming and cause feelings of uneasiness.
But sometimes what may seem like normal teen struggles can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. If you know a teen who you suspect is battling anxiety, learning about symptoms and suggestions for helping teens with anxiety is a great first step.
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress in a normal person. It is often accompanied by feelings of fear or apprehension in reaction to a perceived threat. Although anxiety is a normal response in some people, if a person’s feelings of anxiety are extreme, interfere with his or her life, and last longer than six months, an anxiety disorder may be at hand.
Anxiety disorder symptoms can vary from person to person. Feelings may range from a racing heart or butterflies in your stomach to excessive fear or feeling like you are out of control. It is important to understand the symptoms of anxiety for the purpose of helping teens with anxiety. Other symptoms of anxiety may include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Rapid breathing
- Difficulty concentrating
- Panic attacks
There are several different types of anxiety disorders that teens may experience, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, specific phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety disorder.
How Anxiety Affects Teenagers
Anxiety in teens often hums along like background noise due to the struggles most teenagers face. For some, anxiety is a chronic state that interferes with their ability to function overall in life. Anxiety can affect teens emotionally, physically, academically, and socially.
Some teens who battle anxiety express frequent feelings of worry while others may experience emotional changes such as irritability, restlessness, feeling on edge, difficulty concentrating and may have unexplained outbursts.
Many of the physical effects of anxiety in teens can increase as they get older. It is important for those interested in helping teens with anxiety to watch for patterns. If a teen has a headache here or there, it may not be cause for concern but if he or she has frequent headaches, it can be something to mention to your teen’s doctor. Other psychosomatic complaints of teens with anxiety may include:
- Stomach problems
- Frequent headaches and/or migraines
- Excessive fatigue
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Changes in eating habits
- Complaints of not feeling well without any other obvious medical issue
Social changes in teens with anxiety are also something to keep in mind. If your teen suddenly begins avoiding activities he once loved or has friendships that are recently negatively affected, an anxiety disorder may be an issue. If he avoids social interactions or seems isolated from his peer group, he may be in need of help.
Poor academic performance is another marker for anxiety in teens. If your teen has experienced a significant jump in grades (typically downward), feelings of being overwhelmed by his workload have frequently missed assignments, and/or procrastinates on or has a hard time concentrating on schoolwork, these are signs of an anxiety disorder.
Helping Your Teen With Anxiety
In addition to seeking professional help for your teen’s anxiety, you can help too. First, you can acknowledge his or her fear – do not ignore or dismiss it. Take his feelings seriously. Also, try to not make a fuss if your teen avoids situations due to anxiety. Let him know you believe he will be able to better manage his feelings by taking things one step at a time. Offer affection by regularly telling him you love him and offer hugs if he is receptive. Let him know you are there for him whenever he feels anxious.
It might also be difficult for you to talk to your child’s anxiety, but by talking about the topic with your teen, you are opening the door of communication while giving them permission to talk with you.
Reach Out to Us Today at Adolescent Wellness Academy
If you think it is time for your teen to get anxiety help, talk to a professional as early as possible. The professionals at Adolescent Wellness are dedicated to helping teens with anxiety as well as their parents. Reach out to us today to find an individualized treatment program that meets your teen’s needs.