No matter what age we are, we worry, and it is just normal to worry sometimes. It is when it becomes too tough to handle that it turns out to be a menace to our well-being.
For a teenager, school, friends, dating, competitive sports, family situations, and other circumstances can be the source of stress. It is when anxiety becomes unreasonable and too much to handle that it disrupts a teenager’s functioning and hinders him in his achieving his goals. Once this happens, a parent should start considering that the cause could be an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety Disorder In Teens
The most common mental health issue among our teenagers is what we call teen anxiety disorders. It begins during adolescence causing him to feel unwarranted fear or nervousness. You may notice an anxious teenager when he is often tensed, distracted, and usually on guard.
Causes of anxiety are unknown although there are factors that are considered, such as,
- Brain chemistry
- Situations at home
- Stressful life situations
Fact: “Unrecognized baggage can confuse anxiety’s signal, and add to what might otherwise be a manageable anxiety load.” – Alicia H. Clark, PsyD
Signs That Your Teenager Has Anxiety
Anxiety is unpredictable at times and can be so powerful that it can make you feel numb and paralyzed, affecting both the body and the mind. That is why it is essential to understand the telltale signs of anxiety.
- Rapid breathing and heartbeat
- Tightening of the chest
- Sweaty palms
- Muscle tensions
- Trembling hands and legs
- Nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness
- Feels like crying
- Feels angry
- Changes in sleep patterns and eating habits
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Feelings of hopelessness and depression
- Avoiding people, social functions
- Finding no energy to do activities that they used to enjoy
- Inability to relax
- Excessive worry and fear about what other people think
Many teenagers who are experiencing anxiety are not aware that they can get better and that there are also other teenagers like them who struggles just the same. They are hesitant to talk about their anxiety because of fear that they will be embarrassed, judged, and considered weak. Sometimes, they receive comments they do not want to hear right from their very own parents who should be their primary source of support.
Treatment For Teen Anxiety
Anxiety can negatively affect every area of a teenager’s life. Aside from the symptoms I mentioned above, stress can affect their school performance, either they avoid going to school, missed days due to anxiety-related issues, and inability to keep up with the workload brought by their anxious feelings.
Adolescents should not be left alone in the dark and suffer alone in silence. There are many ways anxiety can be effectively treated. According to Kathy Morelli, LMT, LPC, CA, “You may need medication to manage your symptoms and stabilize your emotional state.” Make sure to apply this method to your teenager.
Medications. There are prescription drugs to treat anxiety in youth, such as Xanax and Valium. They can also be given antidepressants. See a psychiatrist or therapist to see if medication is necessary for your child’s anxiety problems.
Stress Management. There are some relaxation techniques and breathing exercises that can help reduce stress. Some also do yoga, tai chi, massage, and acupuncture to manage the teenager’s anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Talk therapy is proven effective in assisting teenagers to recognize thoughts and feelings that might have caused the anxious feelings and learned techniques to think, act, and cope with stress in healthier ways.
Biofeedback. In some cases, biofeedback sessions may be considered. Sensors are being placed on the body to measure how a teenager responds to stress. He is then asked to do relaxation and breathing techniques and get feedback regarding his stress and anxiety. This treatment is usually fun for teens and is highly useful since it is similar to playing a computer game.
Therapeutic Programs – Wilderness Therapy Programs (WinGate Wilderness Therapy) and therapeutic boarding schools specialize in helping troubled teens manage their anxiety, depression, addiction, oppositional behaviors, and other mental health conditions. They also work with families in teaching them techniques to help improve the home environment and build strong relationships.
A teenager can experience anxiety at different levels. It can affect his emotions that may lead to uncomfortable physical sensations and may be responsible for extreme negative thoughts.
According to Bonnie Zucker, PsyD, “Protecting children from sadness, anxiety and stress is a natural instinct for many adults.” If you noticed signs that your teen is struggling with anxiety that interferes with family relationships, school, friendships, and other areas of his daily life, it is important that you be there for him.
Never allow your kid to suffer alone. Anxiety can be treated.