Raising teenagers gives parents a lot of reasons to worry. They concern themselves with ensuring their children have a good education, access to healthcare, and a safe place to call home. Parents prioritize keeping their kids away from drugs and alcohol, and seek help if they develop an issue with substances.
One thing a lot of parents don’t have on their list of things to worry about is this: Does my child deal with anxiety?
The National Institute of Mental Health reports some alarming statistics about anxiety among young people. These facts include:
- Approximately one-third of adolescents have some type of anxiety disorder
- Of those individuals, eight percent experience a severe impairment
- The number of female adolescents who have an anxiety disorder is 38.0%
- Male adolescents experience anxiety disorders at a rate of 26.1%
Signs That Your Child May Suffer From Anxiety
Symptoms of a child suffering from an anxiety disorder vary. Common signs include:
- Constantly worrying about both general and specific things
- Having panic attacks
- Feeling fidgety
- Constant negative feelings and irritability
- A drop in grades
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of interest in school activities and hobbies
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
- Heart palpitations
- Often feeling cold or sweaty
- Tingling in hands or feet
- Chronic complaints of headaches, nausea, and digestion problems
- Use of drugs or alcohol
What Causes Anxiety in Children and Teenagers?
Adolescents who struggle with an anxiety disorder may have one or more reasons for developing one. These are some of the common contributing causes:
- Adapting to the Pandemic: Children and teenagers do not have a lot of life experience to fall back on. When the world became consumed by the coronavirus, everything familiar to adolescents became altered. Learning new skills like social distancing, attending school from home via a computer, and losing in-person friendships caused much stress.
- “Re-entry agoraphobia” has entered the lexicon, as many people are finding it difficult to return to their old lives. Some adolescents experience anxiety related to returning to school and going places in public.
- Fear of public violence: Children today have spent their entire lives being taught to prepare for violent acts in public. Schools practice regular drills about how to react to a school shooter. News reports about mass gun shootings cause many children to fear going to everyday places, such as the grocery store or mall.
- Social media: Websites like Instagram, Tiktok, and Facebook can foster a sense of anxiety in people of all ages. Adolescents, in particular, can live or die by how many likes or views their posts get. They unfairly compare their lives to those of others.
- Academic pressure: The focus on standardized testing in school can cause many kids to obsess about their grades. Children just beginning elementary school often feel the pressure to compete with each other, whether for daily grades or to get into good college years later.
- Unstable home environments: Children living in homes with high-stress levels may internalize the stress. Situations like parents who have an unhappy marriage, violence in the home, or economic instability can cause a rise in anxiety levels.
How to Help Your Adolescent with Anxiety
Start a conversation with your child about anxiety. Let them know that people of all ages sometimes struggle with it, and it’s nothing to feel shame about. Ask them about specific situations and if these make them feel anxious. Suggest things like school, friendships, family situations, social lives, the pandemic, and worrying about the future.
Discuss how social media can often present a false image of a person’s life. A friend or classmate may often post about fun activities or enjoying romantic attention. These posts do not paint a full picture of their lives. Many people are dishonest on social media out of their own insecurities. Likes and follows do not equal worthiness.
Ask yourself what sort of expectations you set for your child and how these may impact them. There is nothing wrong with wanting your kids to succeed in life. Just make sure to help them set reasonable goals and give them time off to relax and enjoy their youth. While some families want their kids to become doctors or corporate executives, parents need to allow individuality and personal interests to emerge.
Getting a Professional Evaluation for Anxiety
If you suspect your child or teenager may be overwhelmed by anxiety, make an appointment for an evaluation. Doctors and licensed counselors offer anxiety screenings to help both the parents and child understand what’s going on.
Many prescription medications can help young people minimize their anxiety symptoms. Speaking with a therapist and exploring professional treatment programs also offer help managing anxiety disorders. Often, just knowing there is a name for what a child is experiencing and proper help can help reduce some of their anxiety.
About one-third of adolescents experience anxiety in their lives. Reasons for their anxiety can include living during the pandemic, a fear of violence, academic pressure, unstable home environments, and the competitive nature of social media. Parents can help their children by having ongoing discussions about their anxiety levels and how to manage them. A professional medical evaluation, therapy, and medication can offer positive results. Sustain Recovery understands the pressures that adolescents are under today and offers programs that address anxiety disorders and other mental health issues. We also treat addiction to drugs and alcohol in our long-term treatment programs. We offer continuing education, so your child stays up-to-date with their academics. If your child had sought treatment before but did not flourish, we can help. We also keep in touch after program completion to help ensure continued success. Call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052 to help your child start to heal.