Social Anxiety (In Teens): Learn The Signs, Causes, And How To Help Them Cope

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Social Anxiety

I read a post on my social media that said that most of our important and meaningful relationships are formed during our teenage and in our twenties. But how can a teenager form a social relationship when they struggle with social anxiety or social anxiety disorder?

While social anxiety can affect anyone, however, teenage social anxiety is hardly talked about. According to statistics by the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 30% of teenagers struggle with social anxiety disorder.

Learning the signs and symptoms of teen social anxiety, its causes, how it affects a teen’s social life, and how to help them cope can help spread awareness on teenage social anxiety.

Let’s start by understanding the signs of teen social anxiety…

Social Anxiety Symptoms In Teens

Social Anxiety Symptoms In Teens

As a parent, you want the best for your child and want them to be happy and healthy. However, your teen’s social anxiety is not your fault. Many different factors can contribute to a teen developing social anxiety or social anxiety disorder.

I get it. You want to help your child but how can you when you might not be aware of the symptoms of social anxiety in teens. To help your child, the first thing you need to understand are the signs of social anxiety in your teen.

Here are some common signs of social anxiety in teens:

  • Facing extreme difficulty holding conversations with others
  • Avoiding social interactions where they might be the center of attraction
  • Finding it challenging to start conversations with their peers
  • Struggling with anxiety knowing they need to interact with others
  • Having feelings of self-consciousness
  • Feeling uncomfortable around their peers
  • Having an extreme fear of being embarrassed
  • Blanking during social interactions
  • Feeling embarrassed during social interactions
  • Being very self-critical after social interactions
  • Excessively worrying for days and weeks before social events
  • Extreme fear of being judged
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Avoiding social settings and public areas
  • Experiencing shaking, sweating, blushing, and rapid heartbeat in social settings
  • Finding it tough to make friends
  • Finding it difficult to form relationships
  • Experiencing nausea when interacting with others
  • Feeling confused in social interactions

What Causes Social Anxiety In Teens?

Social anxiety in teens can be because of many different factors including biological and situational factors. Another factor that can cause social anxiety in teens can be an overactive amygdala.

Teens often struggle with performance anxiety, fear of being judged, and fear of failure. This stress paired with age and changing hormones can become too much for a teen.

Some common causes of social anxiety in teens can be:

  • Genetics: Yes, a social anxiety disorder can be passed down if there is a family member with a history of social anxiety disorder in the family.
  • Environmental: Being exposed to social phobia, having overprotective parents, or situations that make a teen anxious can also contribute to social anxiety disorder.
  • Past trauma: Teenagers with past experiences where they were embarrassed in a social setting can also cause them to develop this anxiety disorder.
  • Overactive amygdala: The amygdala is the part of our brains that controls the fear response. An overactive amygdala can also be a factor that contributes to social anxiety disorder. Overactive amygdala symptoms can include having an overly sensitive fear response to social situations.

Other risk factors that can cause social anxiety in teens can be:

  • A teen’s personality and temperament
  • Feelings of insecurity
  • Unexplored social situation

How A Teenager With Social Anxiety Is Affected?

How A Teenager With Social Anxiety Is Affected

Feeling nervous, insecure, and anxious is not uncommon. I mean, situations like giving a presentation, a job interview, or meeting new people can all bring forth feelings of anxiety. But, when these feelings of mild anxiety turn into a phobia or cause chronic anxiety, then we need to pay attention to our feelings.

Social interactions are one of the most essential aspects of a teen’s life, isn’t it? It’s during the teenage years when a teen forms the most important relationships of their life. Having a social anxiety disorder can prevent this. Teenage social anxiety can cause a teenager’s life to take an unexpected and challenging turn.

A teenager with social anxiety might have trouble with:

  • Walking into and staying in a crowded room
  • Being in public places
  • Going to school
  • Eating in the company of others
  • Starting simple conversations with others
  • Going to social gatherings
  • Going on dates
  • Forming romantic relationships
  • Making eye contact with others
  • Talking to their peers
  • Public speaking

Also Read: Scared Of Making Friends? Tips To Make Friends When Struggling With Social Anxiety

How To Help Your Teen Cope? (For Parents/Guardians)

How To Help Your Teen Cope

As parents, you can’t see your child struggle so here are some tips to help your teen with social anxiety cope. First things first. You need to stay patient and understanding of your teen’s predicament.

Other tips to help them can include:

1. Encourage Them To Join Conversations

You need to encourage your teen to join conversations happening around them. Joining in a conversation instead of starting one can help them relax into the conversations.

2. Challenge Their Negative Thinking

Negative thinking can be intrusive when a teen is struggling with a social anxiety disorder. Fear and negative emotions can rule anxiety. As parents, you can teach them how to challenge their negative thoughts.

3. Help Them Become More Social

Forming new friendships when your teen is struggling with social anxiety can not be easy. Help them by supporting them and encouraging them to take small steps to become more social. You can tell them to say hi to someone in their class or go for a study session with their friend.

Professional Help For Teens With Social Anxiety

Professional Help For Teens With Social Anxiety

The best news is that social anxiety in teens can be treated with the right help, diagnosis, and professional support. Professional treatment for social anxiety disorder in teens can include:

1. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help treat many mental health disorders including social anxiety disorder. This therapy is goal-oriented and can help teens identify their negative thoughts, challenge unhealthy patterns, and learn effective tools to overcome social anxiety.

2. Exposure Therapy

Another professional treatment can be exposure therapy where a teen can learn to cope with their social anxiety by facing their fears in a controlled environment. Exposure therapy exposes your teen to anxiety gradually while helping them learn techniques to combat the anxiety as it arises.

3. Medications

If your teen’s social anxiety disorder is severe then a professional mental health therapist may suggest anti-anxiety medications to help control their symptoms. You can also help your teen with some anxiety supplements.

Please do not take or give any medications without a prescription. Many medications may have side effects that can worsen the health. Always consult with a psychiatrist before taking any medications.

Managing and coping with social anxiety at any stage in life is not easy and can be quite challenging without professional support. To help teens struggling with anxiety, Headspace has recently come up with a special feature that focuses on helping teens exclusively.

Headspace For Teens aims to help teens learn to be kind to themselves and use mindfulness tools to improve their mental and emotional wellness. You can download the Headspace app from Google Play Store or Apple App Store for free!

If you’d like to connect with us, you can write to us at info@calmsage.com or DM us on social media. If you found this article on social anxiety in teens helpful, then do let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Take care!

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