Edit ModuleShow Tags

Teen Anxiety

Learn to Read the Signs and Discover Ways to Help



Everyone worries, frets or feels uneasy much of the time. Worry itself is not bad when it serves as nature’s way of keeping us safe and sound.

If we’re concerned about our weight, for example, we tend to eat a better diet. If we’re discontented about money, we work harder or save more. If we worry about our kids, we do all of the things needed to keep them healthy and happy.

Teens experience their own set of normal worries: getting good grades; other teens’ opinions of them; the state of their complexion; and their clothes. We also hope they show concern for family rules and responsibilities.

But, worry becomes a problem for teens and their parents if young people stress too often or about things that don’t really matter. Psychologists refer to worry and its accompanying physical changes as anxiety, and too much anxiety can take a serious mental and physical toll on a teen.


Common Conditions

Several types of anxiety disorders may affect teenagers. Simple fears—of talking in public or doing poorly on tests—can cause distress. When teens harbor lots of fears, they can become overwhelming and lead to a panic disorder, making them afraid even to leave the house.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a severe problem that affects about 1 in 100 teens. They often hide their worry about things that are inconsequential to others, such as germs on a doorknob or cracks in a sidewalk, and may develop elaborate rituals to deal with their irrational ideas.

Another diagnosis, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), causes teens to worry throughout the day and may precipitate physical problems like fatigue, headaches and insomnia.


Everyday Aid

Anxiety affects more teens than most parents realize, because they are adept at hiding their problems. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need help. If we suspect that a family teen worries too much, here are some simple suggestions to try.

•Encourage practice of daily relaxation techniques, like yoga, deep breathing, or just listening to calming music.

•Help them think positively, identifying the positive outcomes of a problem, rather than the negatives.

•Encourage a healthy lifestyle, including good nutrition, daily exercise and a regimen of eight to nine hours of sleep. These habits stimulate the brain to produce stress-fighting chemicals.

•Facilitate connections with others. Anxiety can lead to social isolation, which worsens the problem.

•Teach problem-solving skills, such as making a list of solutions to a challenge, comparing possible outcomes, and then trying the best one.

•Encourage discussions about worries; if not with parents, then with a school counselor, good friend or understanding relative. 
 

These practices can be useful to everyone. They are cornerstones of good mental health, and experience proves that teens do better when their parents provide positive role models.


Act Today

If we think that a teen is troubled by anxieties, we shouldn’t hesitate to seek professional advice. A physician or psychologist can help determine whether a teen’s worries are typical of their age or are symptoms of a disorder that needs treatment. It is worth noting that anxiety disorders are commonly seen in combination with other problems, ranging from depression, eating disorders and attention deficit disorders to drug abuse.

The good news is that therapists have made great strides in treating anxiety disorders, usually using a type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavior modification, combined with relaxation training. If a teen’s anxiety problems are affecting her school work or school attendance, then the school psychologist should also be involved. If anxiety problems are affecting a teen’s social life, then social skills training may be advisable.

Talk with a loved teen about any suspected problems today. Even though he may shrug his shoulders, stare us down or even slam the door in our face, smart parents understand that adolescence is a time to step closer to a child, not away from them.

Although teens may resist our efforts and remind us that they are “not kids anymore,” our role as a parent does not change. Teens continue to need structure and support as much as they do in childhood; when they are worried and anxious, they need it—and us—even more.

 
Lawrence Shapiro, Ph.D., is a nationally recognized parenting expert, author and editor of the Instant Help series of workbooks, published by New Harbinger Publications. The Anxiety Workbook for Teens, by Lisa Schab, one of the most popular, provides a practical, step-by-step program for teens.


Related Article:  New Youth Mindfulness Retreats

Welcome to Natural Awakenings Online

August Edition

Empowering Youth
& Creativity

Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »Features

The Garden Cure

The Garden Cure

Natural Sanctuaries Heal Body and Spirit
Winding nature paths, fragrant lavender fields, heirloom-tea tasting… a world of sensory delights awaits us in America’s parks and farms.
Earth Guardians

Earth Guardians

Kids Say No to Global Warming
A young Colorado boy has started a worldwide network of youngsters from Bhutan to Brazil that fight environmental degradation.
Handle Wild Things With Care

Handle Wild Things With Care

How to Help Injured Animals
Many critters that look abandoned or hurt don’t actually need our help—but if we do see a bird, squirrel, turtle or other wild animal in distress, here’s a guide on what to do.
Growing Up Empowered

Growing Up Empowered

Helping Kids Step into Their Best Selves
We build confidence in our children by encouraging their unique strengths, fostering their dreams, allowing healthy risks and engaging them in community service.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Editor's Picks

Spring’s In Full Swing at  Hilltop Hanover Farm

Spring’s In Full Swing at Hilltop Hanover Farm

Learn how to grown your own food or reserve an organic CSA.
Natural Fertility

Natural Fertility

Whole-Body Wellness with an Integrative Approach
Stay Healthy This Winter:  Tips from Local Wellness Experts

Stay Healthy This Winter: Tips from Local Wellness Experts

Integrative Medicine, Homeopathy and Ayurveda wisdom from Westchester, NY professionals
Four Ways to Light(en) Up Your Life

Four Ways to Light(en) Up Your Life

In an increasingly unpredictable world where anxiety and insecurity abound, where can we turn to find peace and happiness?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »Global Briefs

Scrambling Species

Climate Change Favors Some Birds over Others

Toxic Trinkets

Low-Cost Jewelry May Harbor Cadmium

LOL TTYL

Hope for a New Generation

Good Reads

Fiction Readers Have More Empathy

Show Stopper

Circuses Cease Exotic Animal Acts

Green Serenity

Sikkim Now a Wholly Organic State
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »Health Briefs

Breastfed Babies Have Fewer Colds and Ear Infections

Breastfed Babies Have Fewer Colds and Ear Infections

Prolonged Nursing Provides Protection
Delayed Kindergarten Reduces Attention Deficit

Delayed Kindergarten Reduces Attention Deficit

Reason to Push Back Starting School
Grape Juice Boosts Memory and Driving Skills

Grape Juice Boosts Memory and Driving Skills

Benefits of Polyphenols
Aromatherapy Soothes Allergies

Aromatherapy Soothes Allergies

Scents for Natural Relief
Prenatal Sun Exposure Lowers Asthma Risk

Prenatal Sun Exposure Lowers Asthma Risk

Increased Vitamin D Reduces Likelihood
Young Adult Insomnia Linked to Chronic Pain

Young Adult Insomnia Linked to Chronic Pain

Lack of Sleep Early On Leads to Complications Later in Life
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Spotlight

Breastfed Babies Have Fewer Colds and Ear Infections

Breastfed Babies Have Fewer Colds and Ear Infections

Prolonged Nursing Provides Protection
A six-year Texan study found that prolonged breastfeeding reduces both sniffles and painful earaches in newborns.
Local Natural Awakenings Magazines
Natural Health Magazine Franchise
Edit Module

Featured Video - The Story of Cosmetics


Marketplace

Advertisement