Anxiety is a normal part of teenage life and can affect anyone. Sometimes if anxiety becomes overwhelming and doesn’t go away, it can be a sign of a more serious anxiety disorder. However, with treatment and support from the college, family and friends, anxiety can be managed.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is the feeling you get when you feel tense, when you might breathe a little fast, when your heart starts to race, and when you’re worried about the situation you’re in or what might come next.
A bit of anxiety from time to time is normal, especially for teenagers. It can help with motivation around school, sport or work, and can help keep them out of danger. But if these anxious feelings don’t go away, they can interfere with concentrating at school, socialising with friends or enjoying life.
How does anxiety affect teenagers?
Anxiety disorders can be especially serious for young people, because they are still developing. If left untreated, anxiety disorders in teenagers can have long-term effects that can continue into adulthood. Signs of an anxiety disorder include:
- feeling constantly agitated, tense, or restless
- having physical signs, including sore muscles, a racing heart, sweating, headache or stomach aches
- being sensitive to criticism or extremely self-conscious
- always expecting the worst to happen
- avoiding difficult or new situations
- being withdrawn
- having trouble concentrating and starting or finishing schoolwork
- having trouble sleeping
Types of anxiety in teenagers
Not all teenagers will have the same symptoms. There are many different types of anxiety disorders that teenagers can experience, including:
- social phobia or social anxiety
- generalised anxiety disorder
- specific phobias
- panic disorder
- separation anxiety
Treating anxiety in teenagers
Anxiety treatments for teenage mental health can range from simple lifestyle changes to counselling techniques.
For people with mild-to-moderate anxiety, treatment might include:
- a healthy lifestyle – exercise, eat well, get enough sleep
- dealing with any issues causing anxiety, whether that be homework, relationships, sexuality or anything else
- reducing stress levels through mindfulness, meditation or relaxation
- using online forums such as ReachOut and Youthbeyondblue
- using e-therapies such as the BRAVE self-help program
- For more severe anxiety, treatments might include:
- psychological therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy or counselling
- medical treatments such as antidepressants
Please don’t ignore the signs form your children on this matter, however mild you might think they are. All children react differently and need to be treated with the care and respect that it deserves, to be supported and listened to in the time or need or distress. Parents themselves need to talk about what is happening at home during these trying times, it is healthy and you’re not alone in what is happening.
Where to get help
Dealing with anxiety during your teenage years can be tough but it can be easier if you seek help. Talk to your doctor, College Counsellor & Head of House, or see below for online programs and tools that can help.
Acting Head of O’Brien House
Greatly acknowledge the information from Health Direct