Anxiety And Panic Disorders In Teens: How To Help A Teenager Struggling With Anxiety
Adolescence or teenage years are the most struggling and challenging years in a kid as well as in their parents’ lives. Anxiety in itself is a struggle to cope with but add in the hormonal and other environmental changes that come with being a teenager, anxiety can be too overwhelming.
When anxiety is already a menace in your teen’s life, any steps you might take to help your teenager can be challenging and at times, unpredictable and messy.
If your teen is struggling with anxiety or a panic disorder, the first step you can take is to understand the telltale signs of the disorder and where they are coming from. Once you’ve established this, you can take further steps to help a teenager with anxiety.
Anxiety And Panic In Teenagers
Teenage anxiety and panic attacks might not be as easy to understand as they may be in an adult. Remember, teenagers are already struggling with finding their place and where they belong in the community, throw in biological changes, environmental, and other lifestyle changes – well… it can be kind of intense.
Anxiety is our normal reaction to stressful and unfamiliar situations we find ourselves in. The thought that you’re stuck in a situation that you feel might feel threatening is what can trigger an anxiety attack.
Anxiety in pre-teens and teenagers is pretty common. In a study by the National Institute of Health, 1 out of every 3 teenagers (aged 13-18) experience an anxiety disorder. And, unfortunately, with every year that passes, these numbers are growing.
Adolescence is the time in your child’s life when they experience emotional, physical, social, and environmental changes. Mix in some biological and hormonal changes and you get a messy and an overwhelmed teenager in your hands.
As a teen, I remember wanting to be independent to make my own decisions, chase opportunities, and handle challenges on my own. Of course, these came with the need to “fit in”, find my place in the world.
For many teenagers, anxiety doesn’t last long but, for others, if not addressed or if left undiagnosed and untreated, it can turn into a serious anxiety or panic disorder.
What Causes Teenage Anxiety?
There are no particular causes that we can list when it comes to answering this question but I do have some potential reasons on what may cause teenage anxiety and panic attacks:
1. Peer Pressure.
The pressure to “fit in”, as I spoke of earlier and the pressure to succeed can be one of the major reasons why teens may develop or experience anxiety or anxiety attacks. With competition rising steadily to come out on top, teens are facing more and more challenges that can become overwhelming too soon.
2. Fear Of the Unknown.
In the current pandemic situation where teens and children are spending most of their time under lockdown and between online classes, the fear of the unknown may be one of the other causes of why anxiety is becoming common these days.
3. Social Pressure.
Social media is a big part of today’s teens. While being connected with others is a good thing, it can also lead a teen to develop self-worth and self-esteem issues when they find themselves comparing their life to those of their peers and friends.
Apart from these reasons, the pretty big ones can be developmental issues, hormonal changes, and other major lifestyle changes that can contribute to a teen developing anxiety issues.
Note: Keep in mind that anxiety can be a good thing too. Feeling anxious can motivate a teen and push them to do their best regardless of the situation they’re in. It can also keep them safe by helping them prepare for the worst-case scenarios.
If the symptoms of anxiety and panic disorder in teens are left unaddressed, it can result in them developing mental health issues such as depression, substance use, digestive problems, high blood pressure, risk of self-harm, and even thoughts of suicide.
If you’re a teen and struggling with thoughts of suicide, please contact these helpline numbers. Remember, there is help available!
Helping Teenagers With Anxiety
If you’re a parent, guardian, or teacher, here are some things you can do to help a teenager with anxiety:
1. Know Their Symptoms
Maybe your teen feels comfortable coming up to you and expressing their anxiety and feelings but sometimes, they may not be comfortable sharing their thoughts with you. Don’t take it personally, remember that they might not be aware of their symptoms themselves.
Signs and symptoms of anxiety or panic can be:
- Recurring worries about everyday life
- Changes in their behavior (being more irritable and aggressive, etc)
- Withdrawing or avoiding social events
- Changes in their grades
- Avoiding going to school
- Experiencing trouble staying focused
- Engaging in risky and impulsive behaviors (using drugs, alcohol, etc)
- Experiencing frequent fatigue, headaches, or other physical aches
It is very important to read up about their disorder whether it be panic or anxiety. If your teen is in treatment, read up about their particular or recurring symptoms, their treatment plan, and other materials to help understand more about their condition.
2. Be Patient
Being patient with a teenager isn’t an easy feat but when they are struggling with managing their anxiety, being patient is the key! Telling your teen that they are overreacting and dismissing their concerns is not going to help them.
To remain supportive of your teen, you need to display patience. A teen with a panic disorder may experience depersonalization or derealization, nausea, shortness of breath, trembling or shaking, etc.
Know that these symptoms are normal for their condition. Your patience and understanding of their condition will make them feel a lot better.
2. Spread Awareness
Teenagers struggle with finding their place in the world. They often struggle with experiencing that sense of belonging. Anxiety disorders or panic disorders may make it difficult for your teen to engage in social situations.
If their peers and teachers are not aware of their condition, it can make your teen feel lonely and cause them to withdraw from social interaction.
As a parent or a guardian, your support means a lot. In such situations, you can be an advocate and spread awareness about their condition. Help others understand the truth about panic and anxiety disorders.
Showing your unwavering and unconditional support for your teen’s struggles may go a long way in making them feel safe in their world.
3. Promote Self-Care
Taking care of teenage anxiety and panic disorder can become overwhelming for the parent or the caregiver too. In this case, it is best to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. Take some time away to make sure you are taking care of your mental health needs.
When your teen sees you practicing self-care, it will encourage them to practice self-care too. Teens are impressionable and they will look up to you and what you model or practice. Self-care activities can help you as well your teen relax.
Seek Professional Help…
If your teen’s anxiety and panic issues are interfering with their daily routine and life, it is recommended you seek professional help. Professional help can be found in school counselors, teen therapists, or counselors.
I hope this article on how to help a teenager with anxiety and panic disorder was helpful. For more, you can always connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on social media. You can also write your thoughts and comments below. We’re always looking forward to hearing from you!
Take Care! Be Safe!