How can I help my teen struggling with anxiety? Today teenager’s not only have the stress of schoolwork and peer pressure, they are concerned about their social media presence.
If you doubt this is an issue, you are fooling yourself. Statistics have proven that teens rely on their virtual reality for many feelings of acceptance. This is why it is critical for parents to continue to have offline discussions about online reality.
FOMO (fear of missing out) is very real for these kids today. Even some adults have this fear. You have to look far and wide to walk down the street to find someone without their cell phone in their hand. What are some of the warnings signs that your teen could be struggling with anxiety?
- Tired, sleeping a lot
- Skipping school, school refusal (avoidance)
- Failing in school (underachieving)
- Difficulty focusing
- Not able to make decisions, moody
- Extreme behavior changes (defiance, rage, belligerence)
- Memory loss
- Depression (lack of motivation)
- Staying up all night, sleeping during the day
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Substance use, vaping
- Apathy (loss of interest in things they used to love)
With pre-teens and teens there are several types of anxiety disorders:
Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is an intense fear of social situations or of being judged or embarrassed in public. It can include intense worry about not being included or ‘fear of missing out’ as mentioned above.
Generalized anxiety disorder is excessive worry about many everyday situations, this can be heightened if your teen is being bullied either in school or online.
Specific phobias are intense fears of situations or objects – for example, heights, cats or even climate change.
Panic disorder is repeated and unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is an overwhelming feeling of fear or panic in a situation where most people wouldn’t be afraid. This is also overwhelming for many adults.
Treatment for teen anxiety disorder
Most anxiety disorders for young people are unlikely to go away on their own, however will improve with psychological treatment.
Psychological treatment usually focuses on strategies to help teenagers cope with anxiety.
Behavioral therapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is effective for anxiety disorder. CBT can help your teen to understand their anxieties and increase their confidence to face their fears and cope with the uncertainties of life rather than avoiding them. CBT works best when teenagers learn strategies with a mental health professional and then practice the strategies at home and in real-life situations.
Teenagers don’t usually need medicine for anxiety, but health professionals might prescribe it under certain circumstances.
Teen depression and anxiety is treatable. It’s imperative you seek help for your child. As many parents know, sometimes your teenager can be stubborn and refuse to get help. It’s a parent’s responsibility to do what is best for them.
If you come to a point where you have exhausted all of your local resources and you find your teen is still struggling with anxiety and depression, you may want to consider residential treatment. Contact us for a free consultation.