Stress is a normal part of life. However, if you notice you’re feeling worried more often than not, your moods are frequently negative, or your grades are beginning to suffer, there is a good chance your anxiety is becoming problematic. Anxiety is the number one mental health problem facing teens today, and it is far more common than most parents realize. Anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders in teens are associated with “impaired school functioning and school absenteeism, negative school environment, poor coping skills, and difficulties in relationships (Raknes et al., 2017).”
Teen anxiety symptoms can be associated with depression, substance use, and difficulty envisioning adulthood. Knowing the signs to look for can be helpful in making a decision about seeking help. Here are some signs that your stress or anxiety is getting out of control:
Frequently feeling overwhelmed
Feeling edgy or even afraid without a clear reason
Experiencing negative thoughts or expecting the worst to happen
Having difficulty turning your mind off at night to fall asleep
Waking up during the night and struggling to get back to sleep
Feeling tired during the day
Biting your nails or picking at your skin
Having a racing heart, clammy hands, or feeling short of breath
Having stomachaches or headaches
Frequently worrying about various things, such as grades, friendships, the future, etc.
Feeling irritable or grumpy
Feeling tense, nervous, or on edge
Believing that everyone around you is judging you or thinking poorly of you
Struggling to concentrate or remember things
Experiencing muscle tension
Panic attacks or anxiety attack symptoms
If you can relate the any of the symptoms listed, it would be helpful to speak to a professional in the mental health field. Anxiety is nothing to be embarrassed about, in fact there are a lot of people out there who can relate. Feeling anxious is your brain’s way of telling you that you’re struggling, and the good news is that it can get better.
Counselors can help you with managing and/or reducing your anxiety by talking about the problem one-on-one, helping you identify and change thought patterns that are keeping you anxious, and teaching you skills to reduce your anxiety. Teen anxiety counseling can make a world of difference in your day-to-day life. One helpful type of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy, but we draw from other evidence-based therapy methods as well.
Group therapy for anxiety involves meeting with other teens in a confidential environment and learning anxiety-reducing skills together. Teens say that the group therapy environment is helpful because they realize that they’re not alone in their struggles and benefit from what has helped their peers.
In the meantime, here are some things you can do to help yourself feel better:
Write down your worries
Draw a picture or create some other type of art
Take a walk
Do some physical activity you like, such as weightlifting, skateboarding, or playing a sport
Try herbal tea
Take a warm bath or shower
Listen to music
Talk to someone you trust
Take slow, deep breaths, making sure you fill up your lungs all the way to the bottom
Interrupt negative thinking
Get enough sleep
If you would like to seek professional help for yourself or a teen in your life, Etheridge Psychology would be happy to schedule your appointment. Adolescent support groups specializing in teen anxiety will be starting soon, and we are also taking individual clients. Give us a call to get on our anxiety support group list or to schedule for individual counseling with one of our child therapists or our child psychologist in Cary.