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How Many Teens Have Anxiety

Happiness Is All The Rage

What Percent Of Teens Or Young Adults Have Anxiety? | Anxiety Symptoms And Causes

Happiness is emphasized so much in our culture that some parents think it’s their job to make their kids happy all the time. When a child is sad, his parents cheer him up. Or when she’s angry, they calm her down.

Kids grow up believing that if they don’t feel happy around the clock, something must be wrong. That creates a lot of inner turmoil. They don’t understand that it’s normal and healthy to feel sad, frustrated, guilty, disappointed, and angry sometimes, too.

What Do Anxiety And Depression Look Like In Teenagers

Nanci Ginty Butler: A common sign of depression in teens is irritability and an inability to tolerate stress or adversity. Depression can also make it hard for teens to get along with their family and friends. They often isolate themselves and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed.

Kimberly OBrien: In younger adolescents, anxiety often arises as social anxiety and fear of group situations or not performing well in or out of school. As teens approach graduation and early adulthood, the source of their anxiety can shift to fear about the future or their identities.

Signs of anxiety and depression in teensAnyone can go through a slump. Parents should take notice when their teens behavior changes abruptly or they exhibit any of the following signs for two weeks or longer: Depression inability to tolerate stress or adversity trouble getting along with people lost interest in activities panic attacks: episodes of sudden, intense fear excessive worry about social acceptance crippling concern about the future

Family Dynamics Being Out Of Sync

As much as children and teenagers pretend to hate rules, deep down, they are well aware that they cannot always make the best decisions and require stable parental figures to guide them.

Children want their parents and caregivers to take the lead, even if they might not always agree or downright rebel against any rules put in place.

But, unfortunately, when the family dynamics are confusing or chaotic, a childs anxiety levels can go through the roof.

Read Also: Can You Get Anxiety For No Reason

Teen Anxiety And Depression Often Come Together

You might be wondering why one book would try to deal with both anxiety and depression. Arent they different problems? While there are differences, many experts now view them as two sides of the one coin, or two faces of the one basic problem. Yes, someone can be depressed but not anxious, or anxious without being depressed, but about 50 percent of teens who have one also have the other, to some degree.

When it comes to depression, 13 percent of twelve- to seventeen-year-olds experience major depression in any one year, with depression affecting about 20 percent of adolescents by the time they become adults. Thats every fifth teen in your childs class.

We also find biblical figures who experienced depression. Look at how depressed the psalmists were in Psalm 32 and Psalm 88, how depressed Elijah was at the lowest point of his ministry , and how Job slipped into depression at various times .

As anxiety is more common than depression for teens, and it usually comes before depression, the primary focus of this book will be anxiety. However, most of the remedies work for both anxiety and depression, as we will see.

Managing Symptoms: Staying Healthy

Important Signs of Child/Teen Depression

Being healthy is important for all children, and can be especially important for children with depression or anxiety. In addition to getting the right treatment, leading a healthy lifestyle can play a role in managing symptoms of depression or anxiety. Here are some healthy behaviors that may help:

  • Having a healthy eating plan centered on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes , lean protein sources, and nuts and seeds
  • Participating in physical activity each day based on age

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Lifetime Prevalence Of Social Anxiety Disorder Among Adolescents

  • Based on diagnostic interview data from National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement , Figure 3 shows lifetime prevalence of social anxiety disorder among U.S. adolescents aged 13-18.4
  • An estimated 9.1% of adolescents had social anxiety disorder, and an estimated 1.3% had severe impairment. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria were used to determine impairment.
  • The prevalence of social anxiety disorder among adolescents was higher for females than for males .

Figure 3

Lifetime Prevalence of Social Anxiety Disorder Among Adolescents

Demographic

Symptoms Of Anxiety In Teenagers

Symptoms of anxiety vary widely, from withdrawal and avoidance to irritability and lashing out. Anxiety is often overlooked because teenagers are good at hiding their thoughts and feelings. But these are some of the behaviors that might be a sign that a teenager is anxious.

  • Recurring fears and worries about routine parts of everyday life
  • Irritability
  • Extreme self-consciousness or sensitivity to criticism
  • Withdrawal from social activity
  • Avoidance of difficult or new situations
  • Chronic complaints about stomachaches or headaches
  • Drop in grades or school refusal
  • Repeated reassurance-seeking

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Insomnia And Sleep Deprivation:

The impact of artificial lighting and technology on sleep is harsh for everyone in modern society, but it is particularly important for teens, who need more sleep than adults, but have shifted sleep clocks, meaning that they naturally go to sleep later and get up later . The issue is that most schools start by 8 am and teens cant sleep in late, leaving them chronically sleep deprived. All artificial light has the result of reducing melatonin production at night and making sleep more difficult, but the light on computer and phone screens is a bluer light, and it has twice the suppressive effect on melatonin severely impairing sleep in teens. A study published in the British Medical Journal reported that the more screen time teens engage in, the longer it takes them to fall asleep. Teens with 4 or more hours of screen time per day were 350% more likely to sleep less than 5 hours at night and 49% more likely to need more than 60 minutes to fall asleep. The impact of less sleep? Anxiety, depression, inability to concentrate and poor grades.

Suggestion 2: Help yourself sleep by limiting screen time at night and/or adding an amber filter to their phone, pad, or laptop to limit blue light exposure . For more help with getting yourself to sleep, see my article 11 Tips for Getting to Sleep Tonight.

Facts About Mental Disorders In Us Children

Teen Anxiety is on the Rise: Why Do Kids Have So Much Anxiety and Depression
  • ADHD, behavior problems, anxiety, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children
  • 9.4% of children aged 2-17 years have received an ADHD diagnosis.2 Read more information on ADHD here.
  • 7.4% of children aged 3-17 years have a diagnosed behavior problem.3
  • 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years have diagnosed anxiety.3
  • 3.2% of children aged 3-17 years have diagnosed depression. 3
  • Some of these conditions commonly occur together. For example:
  • Having another disorder is most common in children with depression: about 3 in 4 children aged 3-17 years with depression also have anxiety and almost 1 in 2 have behavior problems .3
  • For children aged 3-17 years with anxiety, more than 1 in 3 also have behavior problems and about 1 in 3 also have depression .3
  • For children aged 3-17 years with behavior problems, more than 1 in 3 also have anxiety and about 1 in 5 also have depression .3
  • Depression and anxiety have increased over time
  • Ever having been diagnosed with either anxiety or depression among children aged 617 years increased from 5.4% in 2003 to 8% in 2007 and to 8.4% in 20112012.4
  • Ever having been diagnosed with anxiety increased from 5.5% in 2007 to 6.4% in 20112012.4
  • Ever having been diagnosed with depression did not change between 2007 and 2011-2012 .4
  • Mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders begin in early childhood
  • 1 in 6 U.S. children aged 28 years had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.5

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Parental Time With Kids Adds Adult Influence Guidance

There has been heated debate in the quality versus quantity discussion on how to spend time with your kids. Clinton said the emphasis should be on being present in their daily lives.

You dont suddenly make up for not talking to your kids for six months by going away for a week to Disney World. Its the day-to-day serve and return that makes a big difference, she said.

That daily time helps shape kids minds and values: parents can touch on school work, how to talk to peers, and respecting others, for example.

How you build influence is by being present, Clinton said.

Research has even suggested that kids who shared fewer meals at home with their family got into having sex or trying drugs at an earlier age.

Children feel the ripple effects of their parents stress, Stephen de Groote noted.

De Groote and Clinton both offered their insight in April at a training event for Youth Justice Ontario. The focus of their speech was The Teenage Brain Under Construction.

Child and parenting expert Stephen de Groote talks about stress and how important it is for parents and youth to connect.

De Groote believes youth need to feel safe, valued and that they have direction in their lives. If theyre feeling disconnect, it could foster anxiety and depression.

Our children are the best barometer on our stress, de Groote said.

What Are The Risk Factors For Anxiety

There are a number of factors that have been shown to increase the likelihood of someone experiencing an anxiety disorder. These include:

  • genetics a family history of anxiety, or a childs role models displaying anxious behaviours
  • personality factors and learned traits, such as a child being highly sensitive, shy, a perfectionist or having low self-esteem
  • chronic illnesses, such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy
  • ongoing stressful events, such as family problems or change in living arrangements
  • trauma, such as abuse, or the loss or death of a loved one
  • other mental health conditions.

Also Check: Is Depression A Anxiety Disorder

The Reasons For More Anxiety

So why are teens feeling more anxious than ever? Some put the blame on cultural changes. They say that our societys increasing materialism over the years has eroded personal relationships and families. We now value money and personal luxuries more than relationships. This explanation can answer the question of increased anxiety for both adults and teens. Other experts look more closely at the teenage experience. Today, more teens stay in school longer and delay entering the workforce, which effectively extends the unstructured teenage years, often well into the 20s. More teenagers come from homes with divorced parents than ever before. More drugs are available and accessible to teens today. All of these things can contribute to increased feelings of anxiety and worry. Some experts also point to a strong sense of narcissism and entitlement among young people today. Our teens have been raised to believe that they can do anything. In many ways this seems like a positive attitude. Young people should be free to dream and to strive to achieve their dreams. However, when a young boy without the innate skills thinks he can play in the NBA one day, he is likely to suffer serious disappointment when his dreams are not realized. Many young people are also raised by parents who devote all of their energy to child-rearing. This helps to foster the narcissistic sense that a teen is the center of the world.

Electronics Offer An Unhealthy Escape

Anxiety disorders in teens on the rise  The Green Pride

Constant access to digital devices lets kids escape uncomfortable emotions like boredom, loneliness, or sadness by immersing themselves in games when they are in the car or by chatting on social media when they are sent to their rooms.

And now we’re seeing what happens when an entire generation has spent their childhoods avoiding discomfort. Their electronics replaced opportunities to develop mental strength, and they didn’t gain the coping skills they need to handle everyday challenges.

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Social Media And Social Anxiety In Teenagers

Social anxiety is the intense fear or phobia of social and performance situations and is considered to be a normal part of adolescence. The difference between having a social anxiety experience and having social anxiety disorder is that SAD is a lasting emotional state that causes people to have an emotional or physical reaction that is disproportionate to their actual experience. According to recent studies, social media platforms like Instagram have increased the number of cases of social anxiety disorders in teenagers and adolescents.

How do you know if your teen is experiencing SAD? Some of the symptoms include a lack of desire to socialize, being withdrawn, feeling embarrassed or a deep fear of social scrutiny, and nervous habits like fidgeting and hair twirling. Most individuals with social anxiety disorder avoid eye contact, and reveal very little about themselves to their peers, they are often afraid to engage and initiate conversations. Teens suffering from SAD are often mistaken for being shy, which often results in a delayed diagnosis. This disorder can lead to other mental disorders including depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and even thoughts of suicide.

Anxiety Is Highly Treatable

Fortunately, anxiety disorders are highly treatable conditions.

When it comes to teen anxiety, it may be helpful for individuals to speak to a family member about how they are feeling.

However, more often than not, young people require treatment to help them with their anxiety symptoms.

Recovery may come in psychotherapy where a teenager shares their feelings with a therapist and seeks to resolve any underlying issues that may be causing the anxiety.

Some young adults may benefit from mindfulness therapies where they learn about breathing exercises and effective relaxation techniques.

Treatment is highly dependent on a persons circumstances and symptoms.

If you are a parent and suspect that your child may be suffering from anxiety, or if you are worried that you may have an anxiety disorder, then be sure to get in touch with one of our specialists who will help.

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Panic Attacks: Know The Symptoms

Not all anxious teens experience panic attacks, and some experience mild symptoms of panic without enduring a full panic attack. The following symptoms are common among people with anxiety disorders:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Feeling like theyre dying
  • Feeling like theyre going crazy
  • Numbness or tingling in arms and legs
  • Derealization.

If your teen appears to be struggling with anxiety that interferes with school, friendships, family relationships, or other areas of daily functioning, its important to get an evaluation from a licensed mental health practitioner. Anxiety is treatable, and most teens can learn to cope with and manage their anxiety independently.

1. National Institute of Mental Health, Any Anxiety Disorder Among Children, retrieved from .

2. American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics Supports Childhood Sleep Guidelines. Published June 13, 2016. Retrieved from https://healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/AAP-Supports-Childhood-Sleep-Guidelines.aspx. Accessed November 24, 2020.

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