Some anxiety is normal and healthy. A normal dose of worry or anxiety can help us to deal with stressful situations, like studying for an exam. Some individuals find it more difficult to face such scenarios and become consumed by them.
Teenage anxiety affects virtually every aspect of an adolescent’s life. Teens with anxiety regularly face obstacles that seem too high for them to overcome, leaving anxiety’s sufferers in despair while they repeatedly cycle through negative thought patterns.
A Closer Look
Anxiety disorders affect about 8% of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18. Only about 18% of the sufferers of teenage anxiety receive the help that they need.
As teens grow, they begin to experience the troubles of life. Worries like, “Will I make the basketball team?” or “What if I choke up when it is time to give my speech?” are questions you may be familiar with. Since everyone worries from time to time, how can you decipher whether your child’s worries are the result of normal teenage angst or if he is battling an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety is a silent affliction. It impacts the lives of teens, affecting their social lives and causing them to avoid places, situations and activities. Teenagers are already notorious for closing the doors of communication with their families. Add in a serving of anxiety to the mixture and you may find it to be incredibly difficult to find out what is going on inside your teen’s mind.
What to Look For
If you are concerned that your child is in the grips of an anxiety disorder, it is important to know the signs. The first symptom is often withdrawal. Your teen may suddenly show disinterest in things he normally enjoyed. You may see and hear less from him or find it difficult to get him to open up. Also, watch for the following symptoms of anxiety disorders:
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty concentrating
- Grades dropping
- Difficulty sleeping or sleep disturbances
- Appetite change
- Sweaty palms
Effects of Teenage Anxiety
Anxiety disorders can lead to a number of problems. Anxiety can cause lifelong issues. It can be detrimental to academic and social progress in a teen’s life, causing him to miss out on learning how to relate to others, important subjects in school and other important milestones that happen during this time. It is very important to get help for the future as much as the present.
Individuals who have suffered from anxiety disorders, predominantly those that have gone unchecked for long periods of time, have experienced the following potentially life-impacting struggles:
- Low self-esteem
- Poor performance
- Substance abuse
- Dropping out of school
- Behavioral problems
- Committing crimes
Many teens with anxiety don’t have the tools needed to cope with their struggles. As a result, many teens will fall victim to the problems listed above as they attempt to find relief from their symptoms. Research has found that 90% of teens can be helped when they learn the skills necessary to cope with their problems in a healthy way.
Seek the help of a health professional to determine the best course of treatment for your child. In doing this, the duration of your teen’s illness and its effects and impact on her future can be shortened. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often helpful in helping one to understand his errors in thinking. Sometimes medication is prescribed if a teen’s anxiety issues are severe enough.
Once a plan of action is established for your teen, make sure he is following through with any exercises prescribed to him as well as attending all appointments. This, plus plenty of rest, a little exercise and healthy eating will help to send him down the road to recovery in the best possible way.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Anxiety Disorders at School:
Psychology Today: Understanding Teen Anxiety: