When your child is struggling, it can be tough to deal with as a parent. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 1 in 4 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 have a diagnosable anxiety disorder. While this prevalence can be alarming, it also means that you as a parent are not alone, and there are a host of resources available to you and your struggling teen. You may be wondering, “How do I know if my teen has an anxiety disorder?” And that’s a good question. It can be hard to discern the difference between normal “teenage angst” and an anxiety disorder.
While normal anxiety is an emotion you can expect to see in your teenager, when it’s persistent orvery intense and severe, it’s considered to be an anxiety disorder. This type of disorder is a serious mental health problem and affects how your teen thinks, feels and behaves. Anxiety can even impact a teen’s performance in school.
Symptoms of Anxiety in Teens
With mental health disorders, like anxiety, it’s important to note that symptoms will be different from patient to patient. And, it’s even more important to note that not all symptoms have to be present for there to be a problem. This means that despite your best efforts as a parent, you may not realize your teen’s anxiety—don’t blame yourself. You know your child best, and here are some of the most common symptoms to look out for.
Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders may cause the following emotional symptoms in your teenager:
- Constant agitation or restlessness
- Constant worrying
- Inability to relax
- Heightened sensitivity to criticism
- Social anxiety
- Extreme pessimism
- Skewed sense of perception (overreacting to seemingly small problems)
- Avoidance of taking on new challenges or situations
- Withdrawing from social activities
- Inability to get obsessive thoughts or images out of his/her head
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders may cause the following physical symptoms in your child:
- Increased muscle tension
- Increased bathroom trips
- Adrenaline-like symptoms (racing heart, sweating, stomach aches/nausea)
- Problems sleeping
If you notice any of these symptoms occur for a period of two weeks or longer and live in the Columbia, MO area, you should contact the experts at Aspire Counseling to obtain more guidance. Remember, you don’t need to witness all of these symptoms for there to be a problem.
Getting Professional Help for Your Teen’s Anxiety
An anxiety disorder is unlikely to subside unless you have professional intervention from a teen therapist &/or family counselor. You should talk to your child and seek help as soon as you notice there’s a problem to get your child the help they need before the disorder gets out of control.
Options for professional help include:
- Your family doctor
- A psychiatrist
- School counselor
- Mental health professional
What You Can Do Immediately for a Teen with Anxiety
It can be overwhelming and make you feel helpless not knowing what to do when your teen is suffering from anxiety. In addition to getting professional counseling for your teen, there’s a lot that you can do as a parent to help your teen. While we as professionals will help your teen in our therapy sessions, the best prognosis for anxiety treatment is a collaborative approach from family members at home. This can include creating a safe and nonjudgmental environment so they feel safe coming to talk to you about their anxiety. This can also include just checking in and letting them know you’re there for them. Finally, this can include creating a mindful and stress-free household as often as possible. Be open-minded to receiving guidance from the professional; in supporting you as the parent, they are also supporting their client, your child.
In Summary: Anxiety & Teens
Anxiety disorders are overwhelmingly common, especially in teens. Present-day teens are affected with more societal pressures than any previous generations. While your child is going through this tough time, it’s important to be supportive and communicative with them so that they know that they have the support they need to overcome this type of disorder.
Anxiety Counseling in Columbia, MO
If you are looking for someone to process your own emotions with or counseling for your teenager, please reach out to Aspire Counseling Center. We are a Mid Missouri Mental Health clinic specializing in anxiety, trauma, stress & life adjustment. Our expert mental health therapists can help both you and your family find peace. We’re experienced working with your child’s school & medication providers if and when that coordination is needed. We enjoy working with teens and because our therapists all have very different personalities, there’s a good chance we can find someone who can connect with even the most resistant teenager. Furthermore, we want to support the entire family. If you’re bringing your child to appointments, we have a beautiful meditation room in our counseling office you can use to relax while you wait. Or you may even choose to see a therapist for support and parent counseling yourself.
Our office is conveniently located at 302 Campusview Dr in the Seven Oaks building. It is only minutes away from Rock Bridge High School and down Providence from Hickman High School. Most of our therapists offer early morning, evening and/or weekend therapy appointments so your teen can avoid missing school.
Anxiety is very treatable, so please contact Aspire Counseling to schedule a free therapist consultation today.
About the Author
Travis Mcnulty is today’s guest blog post writer. He owns a counseling practice in St. Petersburg Florida and has consulted as a fellow anxiety expert with the Aspire Counseling director, Jessica. Travis leads a team of expert therapists who provide anxiety treatment, online counseling for Florida residents, couples counseling, parent consultation & other mental health services. His practice is quickly becoming the “go to” place for mental health services in the St. Pete area for counseling services for children, teens & adults!” If you happen to be reading this and live in the St. Petersburg area, McNulty Counseling is the place to call for anxiety treatment for individuals of all ages!