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How To Help My Teenager With Anxiety

Panic Attacks: Know The Symptoms

How To Help A Teenager With Anxiety

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.

Where To Get Help For Anxiety

An appointment with a GP is a good place to start.

You can talk to the GP on your own or with your child, or your child might be able to have an appointment without you.

If the GP thinks your child could have an anxiety disorder, they may refer them for an assessment with your local children and young people’s mental health services .

Specialist CYPMHS are NHS mental health services that focus on the needs of children and young people. CYPMHS workers are trained to help young people with a wide range of problems, including anxiety.

If your child does not want to see a doctor, they may be able to get help directly from a local youth counselling service. For more information, visit Youth Access.

Dont Reinforce The Childs Fears

What you dont want to do is be saying, with your tone of voice or body language: Maybe this is something that you should be afraid of. Lets say a child has had a negative experience with a dog. Next time shes around a dog, you might be anxious about how she will respond, and you might unintentionally send a message that she should, indeed, be worried.

Also Check: Can Anxiety Go Away On Its Own

Tip : Support Your Teen Through Depression Treatment

As your depressed teenager goes through treatment, the most important thing you can do is to let them know that youre there to listen and offer support. Now more than ever, your teenager needs to know that theyre valued, accepted, and cared for.

Be understanding.Living with a depressed teenager can be difficult and draining. At times, you may experience exhaustion, rejection, despair, aggravation, or any other number of negative emotions. During this trying time, its important to remember that your child is not being difficult on purpose. Your teen is suffering, so do your best to be patient and understanding.

Stay involved in treatment. Make sure your teenager is following all treatment instructions, whether its attending therapy or correctly taking any prescribed medication. Track changes in your teens condition, and call the doctor if depression symptoms seem to be getting worse.

Be patient. The road to your depressed teenagers recovery may be bumpy, so be patient. Rejoice in small victories and prepare for the occasional setback. Most importantly, dont judge yourself or compare your family to others. As long as youre doing your best to get your teen the necessary help, youre doing your job.

What Are Some Signs Parents Should Be Aware Of That May Indicate A Teenager Is Experiencing Anxiety Or Depression

Helping Teens Overcome Fear and Anxiety

What we look for are changes. When we have a young person who is depressed, we often see changes in sleep, appetite, social interactions and mood increased sadness or irritability. Anxious teens tend to become more withdrawn, perhaps spending more time in their room. They may increase talk about worries or fears.Most people can manage two or three different stressors simultaneously, but COVID and the current atmosphere in our country come with many related stressors. We cant always predict which one will be the tipping point for a person.

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How Should A Parent Go About Discussing Their Concerns With Their Child

Parents shouldnt underestimate what they think they see. Share your concerns with your teen in a loving way as you would with any situation. Ive noticed you arent quite yourself lately. Can you tell me, are you okay?A lot of people are overwhelmed right now. How are you feeling? Let them know its perfectly fine to talk about feelings and that you want them to. Share how you are feeling, too, so they understand theyre not alone.

How Parents Can Help Their Anxious Teen

When a teen begins displaying signs of anxiety, it isnatural for parents to assume it is just a temporary response to a temporaryissue going on in their lives. After all, the emotional ups and downsassociated with the teen years are legend. Seeing your teen stressing out andirritable may at first appear to be just typical of the age.

However, when the teen exhibits consistent signs ofemotional distress it is wise to intervene as early on as possible. Parents maynot want to consider that their teen might have a mental health problem, but toignore the situation is usually going to result in even more distress and thatleads to problems in school, troubled relationships, and health issues.

Initially, it is best to have the teen evaluated by aphysician. The doctor can assess the general health status of the adolescent todetermine if a health condition might be a factor in the resulting symptoms ofanxiety. If no medical issue is detected, the doctor will likely refer the teento a mental health provider for further evaluation.

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Tip : Make Physical Health A Priority

Physical and mental health are inextricably connected. Depression is exacerbated by inactivity, inadequate sleep, and poor nutrition. Unfortunately, teens are known for their unhealthy habits: staying up late, eating junk food, and spending hours on their phones and devices. But as a parent, you can combat these behaviors by establishing a healthy, supportive home environment.

Get your teen moving!Exercise is absolutely essential to mental health, so get your teen activewhatever it takes. Ideally, teens should be getting at least an hour of physical activity a day, but it neednt be boring or miserable. Think outside the box: walking the dog, dancing, shooting hoops, going for a hike, riding bikes, skateboardingas long as theyre moving, its beneficial.

Set limits on screen time. Teens often go online to escape their problems, but when screen time goes up, physical activity and face time with friends goes down. Both are a recipe for worsening symptoms. Gently encourage your teen to take an occasional vacation from their devices or engage in family activities that dont involve screen time. You can also set an example by reducing your own time spent online.

Encourage plenty of sleep.Teens need more sleep than adults to function optimallyup to 9-10 hours per night. Make sure your teen isnt staying up until all hours at the expense of much-needed, mood-supporting rest.

Ways To Deal With Anxiety

Social Anxiety in Teens: How Parents Can Help

Everyone has feelings of anxiety, nervousness, tension, and stress from time to time. Here are 5 ways to help manage them:

  • Become a relaxation expert. We all think we know how to relax. But chilling out in front of the TV or computer isn’t true relaxation. The same is true for alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. They may seem to relieve anxiety or stress, but it’s a false state of relaxation that’s only temporary. What the body really needs is daily practice of a relaxation technique like deep breathing, tai chi, or yoga that has a physical effect on the mind. For example, deep breathing helps to relax a major nerve that runs from the diaphragm to the brain, sending a message to the entire body to let go and loosen up.
  • Get enough sleep, nourishment, and exercise. Want your mind and body to feel peaceful and strong enough to handle life’s ups and downs? Get the right amount of sleep for your needs not too much or too little. Eat well: Choose fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains for long-term energy . And exercise to send oxygen to every cell in the body so your brain and body can operate at their best.
  • Connect with nature. Heading out for a walk in the park or a hike in the woods can help anyone feel peaceful and grounded. Walking, hiking, trail biking, or snowshoeing offer the additional benefit of exercise. Invite a friend or two or a family member along and enjoy feeling connected to people as well.
  • Recommended Reading: Can Social Anxiety Be Diagnosed

    Teen Anxiety Doesnt Go Away With Reassurance

    So many of the things you might say end up having a paradoxical effect and make the anxiety worse, Bea told The Huffington Post recently. Anxiety can be like quicksand -the more you do to try to defuse the situation immediately, the deeper you sink. By telling people things like stay calm, they can actually increase their sense of panic.

    A teenager that has been anxious since childhood has probably constructed an entire lifestyle around their anxieties. They may have trained their family, friends, and teachers to accept it, Bea says. Thats why its more difficult to treat anxiety the longer a child has lived with it. They have likely developed unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage it, and like a malfunctioning machine, they shut down when the system fails them.

    Anxiety And Other Causes Of School Refusal

    If a teen is refusing to go to school and if there is an emotional reason behind it, parents might begin by uncovering the source of a teens anxiety or emotional distress. Reasons why a teen wont go to school include:

    • the presence of an anxiety disorder or other psychological disorder
    • family conflicts or problems at home
    • physical illness

    Another issue that can keep teens at home is a somatic symptom. This means that a teen may be experiencing a psychological issue but it is showing up as a stomachache, headache, or bodily aches. Frequently, these aches can occur the night before school or the morning of school, and seem to not occur on the days when there is no school. Sadly, some parents might remain focused on the physical symptom without making the connection and supporting their teen with the anxiety or psychological problem.

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    How Can Parents Go About Finding Help For Their Teen

    Connect with your teens pediatrician or primary care provider. They can provide an initial assessment, even via telehealth in many cases, and recommend next steps. Our Cameron K. Gallagher Mental Health Resource Center helps families navigate and access services for their childrens mental health needs either with our providers or others throughout the community or state. Community mental health centers or services boards can provide information and resources as well.

    Anxiety Is A Normal Reaction To Stress But Sometimes What May Seem Like Usual Teen Struggles Can Actually Be A Sign Of A More Severe Anxiety Disorder

    Helping Teens Overcome Fear and Anxiety

    Article by:Emotional ChangesSocial ChangesPhysical ChangesSleep DisturbancePoor School PerformancePanic Attacks Symptoms

    All teens experience some amount of anxiety at times. Anxiety is actually a normal reaction to stress, and sometimes it helps teens deal with tense or overwhelming situations. For many teens, things like public speaking, final exams, important athletic competitions, or even going out on a date can cause feelings of apprehension and uneasiness. They may also experience an increase in heartbeat or excessive sweating. Thats how the brain responds to anxious feelings.

    For some teens, however, anxiety can go beyond these typical symptoms to negatively affect friendships and family relationships, participation in extracurricular activities, and even their schoolwork. When feelings of anxiety interfere with normal daily living, the presence of an anxiety disorder should be considered. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 25% of 13- to 18-year-olds have an anxiety disorder, and just under 6% have a severe anxiety disorder.

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    Think Things Through With The Child

    Sometimes it helps to talk through what would happen if a childs fear came truehow would she handle it? A child whos anxious about separating from her parents might worry about what would happen if they didnt come to pick her up. So we talk about that. If your mom doesnt come at the end of soccer practice, what would you do? Well I would tell the coach my moms not here. And what do you think the coach would do? Well he would call my mom. Or he would wait with me. A child whos afraid that a stranger might be sent to pick her up can have a code word from her parents that anyone they sent would know. For some kids, having a plan can reduce the uncertainty in a healthy, effective way.

    Other Ways To Ease Anxiety In Children

    • teach your child to recognise signs of anxiety in themselves
    • encourage your child to manage their anxiety and ask for help when they need it
    • children of all ages find routines reassuring, so try to stick to regular daily routines where possible
    • if your child is anxious because of distressing events, such as a bereavement or separation, look for books or films that will help them to understand their feelings
    • if you know a change, such as a house move, is coming up, prepare your child by talking to them about what is going to happen and why
    • try not to become overprotective or anxious yourself
    • practice simple relaxation techniques with your child, such as taking 3 deep, slow breaths, breathing in for a count of 3 and out for 3. You’ll find more guidance for helping children with anxiety on the Young Minds website
    • distraction can be helpful for young children. For example, if they are anxious about going to nursery, play games on the way there, such as seeing who can spot the most red cars
    • turn an empty tissue box into a “worry” box. Get your child to write about or draw their worries and “post” them into the box. Then you can sort through the box together at the end of the day or week

    Read Also: How To Calm Chest Anxiety

    What Makes Young People Anxious

    A young person may feel anxious for a number of different reasons, depending on the individual. If your child is feeling unmanageable amounts of worry and fear, this is often a sign that something in their life isnt right and they need support to work out what the problem is.

    The following kinds of things can make some children and young people feel more anxious:

    • experiencing lots of change in a short space of time, such as moving house or school
    • having responsibilities that are beyond their age and development, for example caring for other people in their family
    • being around someone who is very anxious, such as a parent
    • struggling at school, including feeling overwhelmed by work, exams or peer groups
    • experiencing family stress around things like housing, money and debt
    • going through distressing or traumatic experiences in which they do not feel safe, such as being bullied or witnessing or experiencing abuse.

    This video by Braive is a useful way of understanding how stress and anxiety can build up in a person’s life.

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