As a parent or guardian, it’s normal to be concerned about your teenager’s mental health. Teenage anxiety is a common issue that many young adults experience, and understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available can help parents offer the necessary support for their teenaged loved one’s needs.
If you have a concern for your child, it’s important to explore some of the primary causes of teenage anxiety as well as potential signs and treatments. It’s our hope that being more aware and knowledgeable allows you to provide your teen with greater comfort when needed most.
How Anxiety Affects Teens
It can be difficult to navigate through your teenager’s emotions, especially when it comes to anxious feelings. Because it’s so common, it’s important to recognize the signs of anxiety in young people. If left untreated, anxiety can be debilitating for young adults and can affect their daily lives.
Knowing the Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder
Some teenagers experience physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, while others exhibit emotional signs like fear or worry. Anxious children may present the following common symptoms:
- Irritability or mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating, eating or sleeping
- Social withdrawal
- Panic attacks
- Chest pain
- Separation anxiety
- Substance abuse
It’s important to note that teen anxiety symptoms can vary (as they do in children and adults).
Disorders Associated With Teen Anxiety
Teenage anxiety is not uncommon; in fact, it’s a prevalent issue among young adults today. In order to find the most appropriate treatment, it’s essential to identify the type of anxiety your child may be dealing with. As a mental health disorder, anxiety presents differently for teens and can be exacerbated by certain social settings.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Young people with parents who have an anxiety disorder are more likely to have GAD. Teens typically don’t notice they have GAD until they’re in stressful situations. Symptoms include excessive worry before things happen, social anxiety, fatigue, and an inability to relax.
Panic disorders are known for unexpected, recurring panic attacks for no apparent reason. Your teen may have an accelerated heartbeat and feel as though they can’t breathe.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
When a person feels they need to do something and then acts on it repeatedly with strong intent, they may be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) are hallmarks of OCD.
Phobia disorder is when a teen (or individual) has an extreme fear of a situation or object.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Teens suffering from separation anxiety disorder have an extreme attachment to another person.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
With this mental health condition, your teen may experience a range of symptoms after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Social anxiety disorder causes teens to zero in on social situations, excessively worrying in the time leading up to, during, or even after the event. They may focus on mistakes in fear of repeating them. This can include public or group speaking.
High School/Middle School Settings
Whether moving to a new school, working on a stressful school work project, participating in extracurricular activities, or managing low self esteem due to comparing oneself to others on social media, high school and middle school settings can cause anxiety and self-conscious feelings for many teens.
If your child’s anxiety is left untreated, co-occuring mental health problems and long-term consequences can impact education, social life, careers and relationships well into adulthood.
Finding Treatment for Teenage Anxiety
Many teens experience anxiety as a normal part of growing up, but when anxiety becomes overwhelming and starts to impact daily life, it’s essential to seek professional help.
Your teen’s primary care physician or pediatrician can initially screen for anxiety then refer you to a mental health professional. With Meridian HealthCare, concerned parents or individuals interested in learning more about mental health interventions for teen anxiety can simply reach out to our offices to learn more about scheduling an appointment. Treatment options often include one or more of the following interventions: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychiatry, or antidepressant medication.
Mindfulness techniques, such as breathing exercises and meditation, are also proven to be effective in managing anxiety and work well in conjunction with therapy. Holistic approaches like acupuncture can be beneficial, too.
Together, these treatments can help manage anxiety symptoms and teach coping strategies to navigate difficult situations. It’s vital to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, and there are many options available to those struggling with anxiety. With the right support, teens can learn to manage their anxiety and lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
Anxiety vs. Depression
It’s important to note that teen anxiety and teen depression are two distinct mental health conditions. They have overlapping symptoms, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they should be treated the same.
Teens with anxiety are usually “on edge” and excessively worried. Depression, on the other hand, is when a teen feels persistent sadness and loses interest in their favorite activities.
Emotion and Cognitive
Anxiety can lead to headaches, muscle tension and stomachaches. With depression, teens have a decrease in motivation.
Future-oriented worries with possible negative outcomes are a sign of anxiety, while present-focused negative moods are depression.
Teens with anxiety may try to avoid triggers they view as threatening or overwhelming. Teens with depression tend to feel persistently disinterested.
Meridian HealthCare Will Help Your Teen with Anxiety
Teenage anxiety disorders can be challenging for both the teenager and their loved ones, but seeking therapy and medication guidance from a healthcare provider can be extremely beneficial.
If you’re looking for support and assistance when it comes to your teen’s anxiety, contact Meridian HealthCare. Our highly qualified team offers comprehensive mental health services and personalized programs tailored to each individual’s needs.