Anxiety in teenagers can be very challenging for parents. I’m not a parent myself but I once was a teenager with anxiety so I do know to an extent what it must be like.
Having an adolescent with anxiety that is greater than that of their peers may suggest to parents that their child is psychologically or emotionally impaired, although in reality, a small amount of anxiety isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, anxiety can even be used to help motivate an individual. Being aware of anxiety can also help teens better respond to danger, which we all know is plentiful when you’re young and have self-presumed invincibility.
If you’re a parent and suspect your child may be experiencing anxiety but aren’t that familiar with what it feels like yourself, try my article on what does anxiety feel like that includes a more comprehensive list of physical anxiety symptoms.
Tracking and Monitoring Anxiety in Teenagers
Many parents find it useful to keep track of their teenager’s accomplishments and abilities in a way that can be reflected upon so that they don’t begin thinking of their child as being overly anxious or fearful. It would also be beneficial to recognize the abilities their child already has that could possibly be used in dealing with the anxiety symptoms that may be occurring.
What causes anxiety in teens? Life! Anxiety is the body’s reaction to a perceived, anticipated or imagined danger and is a common occurrence among adolescents. In fact, anxiety in teenagers is ‘normal’. Anxiety in teenagers can even be expected as they transition from children to young adults and they start questioning who they are as a person. But, as with everything, too much of a good thing really isn’t good at all and there comes a point when anxiety is no longer beneficial.
Generalized Anxiety in Teenagers Symptoms
There are different types of anxiety in adolescents and one such anxiety disorder that can develop is Generalized Anxiety Disorder. GAD is defined as severe, excessive worry and fear that seems to have no apparent or real cause. Teenagers with GAD often worry a lot about things such as social acceptance, future events, relationships, their personal abilities, and/or school performance. These may seem like your average worries for a teenager, but, the difference between generalized anxiety disorder and normal anxiety is the extreme degree to which the worry takes place. It is also likely that many teens with GAD also have other anxiety problems, the most common of which being social anxiety and/or depression.
As every person is different, severe stress and anxiety symptoms in teenagers may include:
- Recurrent thoughts and fears about safety of self and/or safety of family and friends
- Frequent headaches or other physical complaints
- Social phobia/fear of social situations
- Not being able to concentrate
- Panic attacks
- Inability to relax
Anxiety in Teenagers Treatment Options
There are a number of anti-anxiety medications that are available for the treatment of generalized anxiety in teenagers. A few of these medications include Zoloft, Paxil, Xanax, and Prozac. All of these medications are known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and should only be taken after consultation with a doctor as every person and their anxiety levels are different. Teenagers minds are still developing and counselling and discussion of how your teenager may be feeling could also be beneficial, with or without the use of prescribed medication as well.
Ultimately, parents should not disregard their child’s fears. Apart from the symptoms mentioned above, anxiety in teenagers can also present itself in different ways and may be missed, like mine was when I was a teenager. My mother had no idea, though granted, I wasn’t aware that it was anxiety I was experiencing. Parents should always be alert to any signs of stress and anxiety in teenagers so they can intervene early and prevent future complications.