Teenagers experience a lot of stress in today’s fast-paced, demanding, and media-saturated world.
It is normal for all kids and teens to experience stress throughout their lives; however, some teens have more persistent anxiety that interferes significantly with daily personal and social functioning. Sometimes anxiety is due to an identifiable stressor such as performance or social anxiety, but oftentimes it occurs for no obvious reason at all. It may be difficult to determine if your teen’s worries and fears are “normal” or may actually constitute an anxiety disorder. Teens who are struggling with an anxiety disorder have excessive fear, worry, or shyness, and may begin to avoid certain situations. Sleep disturbance, excessive reassurance seeking, physical restlessness, appetite changes, and feelings of hopelessness are also commonly seen in teens with anxiety disorders.
In working with a counselor, you will learn that anxiety disorders are very treatable with strategies that teach you and your teen about how anxiety works and what to do to manage it. Your teen will learn about the thought-body-behavior chain associated with anxiety and gain tools such as relaxation, gradual exposure to fears, and coping thoughts. With the guidance of a counselor, teens can incorporate strategies such as abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery into their daily routine to reduce anxiety. Therapy can also help teens form a different relationship with their anxious thoughts, through increased awareness of anxious thinking traps and forming more accurate, helpful thought patterns.
An experienced psychologist will also encourage your teen to practice mindfulness— an effective, research-supported tool for managing anxiety. Mindfulness strengthens brain connections in a way that helps to calm us down and stay in the present when faced with anxiety. Psychologists are also specially trained to help motivate your teen to better prioritize self-care, including healthier eating, sleep hygiene, and exercise.
With the guidance and support of a therapist, you and your teen will develop confidence and success in tackling worries and fears.