By: Melissa Barton, MA, LPC-S
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, but there are times where it can feel hard to manage. The symptoms of anxiety may get overwhelming. Feelings, thoughts, or physical symptoms are the main ways that anxiety can rear its head. Feelings can include stress, nervousness, worry, and irritability. Thoughts tend to be negative. Some physical symptoms of anxiety are muscle tension, trouble sleeping, and raised heart rate.
One population that is frequently affected by anxiety is adolescents. The adolescent brain is still developing, and managing the symptoms of anxiety can be hard. This can make it more difficult to deal with daily stressors such as school and family or peer conflict. Environmental issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic, also affect adolescents, and can increase their anxiety.
How Will I Know if Anxiety is Affecting my Child?
“Adolescents who are dealing with anxiety may have trouble with school performance, struggle socially, or even engage in risky behaviors, like abusing drugs or alcohol. “
At any given time in the United States, 25.1% of teens ages 13-18 deal with anxiety disorders, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics). This may seem like a high percentage, and can be concerning for families. Parents who see their teen suffering from anxiety may feel helpless or anxious themselves.
Recently, the world as we know it has changed. Parents are working from home. Teenagers are engaging in online learning. Many people, particularly the young, feel isolated. Mental health issues, including anxiety, can increase due to the current state of affairs. Although stress is high and risk factors are present, there is hope. Parents can provide support for their teens who are suffering from anxiety, whether it is during a crisis, or during day to day life.
5 Things Parents Can do to Help Teens with Anxiety
The value of feeling heard, especially for a teenager, is often underestimated. The simple act of allowing your child to talk to you freely is so important. Forcing teens to talk is not beneficial, but creating a comfortable space, free of judgment, where teens feel safe to share, can have a positive effect.
Validate and Support.
Assure your teen that it is normal to feel anxious at times, especially when there are stressors present. Acknowledge the feeling without dismissing it. It can be helpful for teens to know that you experience struggles and anxiety at times also. Brainstorm ideas together on how to manage the feelings. Some ideas may include talking it out, journaling, practicing yoga, taking walks, and enjoying time with family or pets.
Suggest or Require Screen-free Time.
Electronics including phones, tablets, computers, and video games can be easy escapes from stress, but too much screen time can cause disconnection and irritability. Social media can also be a source of stress for adolescents. Taking scheduled breaks from electronics to relax, spend time with family, or focus on other projects may help to decrease overall anxiety.
Model and Encourage Healthy Habits.
Anxiety can be made worse when we do not take care of our minds and bodies. It is helpful to get enough quality sleep, eat healthy foods, drink water, get exercise, and connect emotionally with others. No one is perfect, but striving to practice healthy habits as parents, and encourage them in teens can help decrease anxiety.
Seek Professional Help.
Although parents can support their children by listening, validating, and setting boundaries, professional help may also be essential. Trained professional counselors who have experience working with teens and teen mental health issues can assist in processing the causes of anxiety, and can educate on mental health in general. Therapists also assist teens in building healthy coping skills.
Counseling Can Help
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Family Counseling can help adolescents and their families find relief from anxiety and its symptoms. The therapists at the Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch are trained in working with teens, families, and the mental health issues that may arise for this population.
There is hope! Many people find relief and build coping skills that can last a lifetime when they seek out professional help. Please do not hesitate to reach out today and call for help!
Other Services at the Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch
Our counseling services at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch include counseling for children and adolescents dealing with depression, self-injury, and school issues. We also provide services for family therapy, counseling for young adults, trauma counseling, anxiety treatment, couples counseling, eating disorder treatment, depression treatment, and group counseling. Our therapists strive to regularly post blogs with helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and our counseling services, please reach out to the Center today!