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How To Help Your Teenager Suffering With An Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues among teenagers. The rate of anxiety among teenagers is also on the rise. Dealing with this disorder is hard for anyone regardless of age. But when it is coupled with the changes of adolescence, it starts to feel like the world is falling apart. Unfortunately, many teenagers who suffer from anxiety do not get the help they need. This is due to the fact that the signs usually go unnoticed and they are afraid to ask for the help they need. As a parent you have to be vigilant so you can notice the signs early. There are quite a few things you can do to help your teenager who suffers from the symptoms.

What Is Anxiety?

In simple terms, anxiety is how your body naturally reacts to stress. When you are fearful or apprehensive about the future or anything unknown you become anxious. Doing a presentation in front of the class, first day at a new school or collecting a report card are things that usually make teenagers anxious. Feeling anxious is normal but can also manifest extreme symptoms.

People can feel anxious and nervous about certain things but it doesn’t typically interfere with daily activities. As a matter of fact, it may help in your motivation and help you to work harder. However, severe cases of anxiety have a significant impact on those who suffer from it. Extreme anxiety is classified as a problem. 

A person is diagnosed with the disorder when they constantly feel anxious and have frequent attacks. These issues cause persistent fear and unease in its sufferers. It can be quite debilitating. Unlike normal times of being anxious, anxiety problems impact your day-to-day life. Most people suffering from an anxiety disorder stop doing things they once loved to do. Simple things become terrifying.  You may have a crippling fear of entering an elevator or crossing the street because you feel like something negative will happen. Many people can find it hard just to leave their homes.

An anxiety issue should not be left untreated. If it is not treated, it will often escalate. Anxiety disorders also affect one gender more than the other. The American Psychiatric Association states that females are more at risk of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder than males. The following are the different types of anxiety that you should know about.

  • Panic problem
  • Phobia
  • Social anxiety 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Separation anxiety 
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Illness anxiety problem 
Ways You Can Help Your Teenager Deal With Anxiety
  1.  Pay Close Attention To The Signs

Signs of anxiety in adolescence can be hard to notice if you don’t pay close attention. This is why anxiety in teenagers usually goes unnoticed because parents and teachers tend to miss the signs. Teenagers typically feel like they’re all alone dealing with an issue that they barely understand. This is why you must communicate regularly with your child so you can determine if something is wrong and get them the treatment they need.

As anxiety affects a teen’s emotional, mental, and physical well being, there are many signs you can use to determine if your child is suffering. Look for changes in social behavior, sleep patterns, and performance in school. If your teenager regularly seems on edge, irritable, restless, and has unexplained outbursts, they may be struggling with anxiety. Physical signs include excessive fatigue, frequent headaches and migraines, and changes in eating habits. Noticing the signs will help you and your child handle the situation appropriately. 

2. Help Them Relax During An Attack

Persons suffering from any mental problem usually feel alone. Being there for your child suffering from anxiety will let them know they’re not alone and you’re there for them. There are various things you can do to help them calm down during an attack. 

Rapid breathing and tightening of the chest are usual results of an attack. Try getting your child to do breathing exercises. This will help them to relax. You can also help your child stay grounded by allowing them to count backward from ten. This will help to get their mind off of the source of their stress. The calming effects of lavender also help during these times. Hold the lavender oil beneath their nose and let them inhale it. Lavender helps to tap into the senses, thus, the result is a feeling of calm and relaxation.

3. Don’t Pressure Them

Anxiety attacks are a common result of feeling pressured. The increasing popularity of social media has led teenagers to compare themselves to others more and set high expectations for themselves. Added pressure from parents makes things even worse. Parents tend to place excessive pressure on their children because they believe this is what is best for them. You may pressure your teenager about doing well in school, spending too much time on the internet, or getting chores done. 

While it’s important to ensure your child is living up to their potential, too much pressure will cause more harm than good. This pressure can lead to issues or worsen a chronic problem. Children usually want their parents’ approval. Being constantly pressured and met with disapproval will cause them to feel stressed and anxious. So, you should be more patient with your child and let them know how proud you are of them. Also if met with a situation you are not sure how to handle, try taking them to a trusted Child Anxiety Center near you.

4. Validate Their Fear And Help Them Face It 

If your teenager is struggling with anxiety, their fears may seem irrational to you. That doesn’t mean you should dismiss them. Anxiety causes people to worry about things that are sometimes quite unlikely to happen. An important part of helping your child is ensuring that they feel understood. What seems illogical to you, is terrifying to them. Respect your child’s fears and let them feel heard. 

Respecting their fear doesn’t mean you should give in to it. The next step is to help them face whatever it is that they are afraid of. Constantly remind your teen that everything is going to be okay. Let them know that life isn’t easy but they shouldn’t let fear stop them from living their best life. A little reassurance goes a long way. 

5. Help Them Become More Confident 

Anxiety causes teenagers and adults to constantly feel like they are not good enough. Helping your child means helping them to build their confidence. Being more confident has proven that will allow them to be less anxious about a lot of things. 

There are many things you can do to help build confidence in your teenager. You can offer rewards for doing well in school or any extracurricular activities. Also, focus on their strengths and try to avoid criticisms. If things get to the point where you are not able to manage, find a reputable Child Anxiety Center in your area.

Teenagers are commonly affected by anxiety which will make adolescent years more stressful. You should pay attention to your child so that you don’t miss the signs. If your child has anxiety issues, you should take all the necessary steps to help them. You as a parent or caregivers can be their biggest support system.