September 15, 2016 | by Haven Staff
We see drug and alcohol abuse develop more and more often in adolescents, and are told to watch our teens closely to help prevent it. But what else should we be watching for that could lead to problems in young adulthood? Anxiety for one, this often-overlooked mental health condition can have major impacts on your children as they grown up and into young adulthood. We also know that teenagers can be moody and unpredictable, so how do we tell the difference between that and a teen that is suffering from some form of an anxiety disorder?
We are going to cover four important factors adults and parents should understand about teenage anxiety, and what to look out for:
1. Anxiety in adolescence is common- the onset of anxiety and other mental health disorders occurs among adolescents with surprising frequency. According to The National Institute of Mental Health as many as one in four teens between the ages of 13 and 18 have some form of an anxiety order. It is common, therefore there is nothing to be ashamed about, and there is plenty of help out there for your teen and family alike.
2. Try to avoid classifying it as a “phase”- from children to teens there are many phases children will be going through, it’s best to not look at this as one of them. By doing so you could be minimizing or dismissing a serious mental health concern, that would do better with your acknowledgment and support. Try to take your child, their emotions, thoughts, and actions seriously in order to get them the help they may need.
3. Help does not have to mean medications- if you begin suspecting your child is experiencing signs of having an anxiety disorder, don’t panic yourself thinking that medication is the only answer. You have many options going forward, medication is just one of them, and not always the best fit for every teen. Taking the time to talk to them about what is going on, what they are experiencing, and that they would like to do can help greatly in the healing process. There is therapy, extracurricular activities such as sports; mindfulness practices, breathing exercises, support groups, and many other useful tools to help aid in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
4. Getting treatment now often means fewer problems later on- one of the biggest factors that contribute to anxiety disorders in teens is the lack of learned coping mechanisms. Helping your teen understand and practice healthy coping skills to manage daily and life stressors can make a large and positive impact. By recognizing your child’s anxiety, and taking action together to make it better, you are bestowing on them how to healthily deal with common life problems as they arise. This will help your teen prepare for other challenges that lie ahead. Just knowing you are there to support them can make all the difference in their world.