Does your Teen Struggle with Anxiety? 

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You are a parent of a teen. You mostly want to rip your hair out on a daily basis yet wish that today will be the day that your teenage child starts to talk to you. Nope. Not happening. So how do you as a parent know when your teen may be struggling with significant stress levels or anxiety that interfere with learning, relationships, and other areas of functioning? Keep reading to find out. 

Teen Stress vs. Anxiety

Sometimes with teens there is often a less direct source of stress and they may become less aware of what they are even anxious about. They may even feel anxious about being anxious! 

The key between stress and anxiety is a sense of helplessness and ability to affect their daily functioning. Many times, when teens experience fear they feel helpless. As an adult, you may be more likely to dive into the problem causing the stress and know how to problem solve more easily. With anxious teens, they have not yet learned how to master this. 

What to Look For

Many times, teen stress can manifest in different ways and it is important to know what to look for when it comes to teen anxiety. 

Emotional changes: Your teen might appear irritable, agitated, excessively worried, or depressed. Pay attention to changes in behavior. 

Behavioral changes: Look for changes in eating or sleeping habits, and avoidance of normal daily activities or refuse to engage in new experiences (especially school avoidance). Teens may also isolate and avoid their usual activities, have less interest in hanging out with friends. IMPORTANT: **In an attempt to diminish or deny their fears and worries, they may engage in risky behaviors, drug experimentation, or impulsive sexual behavior.** 

Physical changes: Anxious teens are more likely to complain of stomachaches, headaches, or pain in the limbs and back. Teens may also notice their heart beating fast, have shortness in breath, and tense muscles. 

Cognitive changes: Your teen may exhibit decreased concentration, daydreaming, forgetfulness, or sullen, moody, and rebellious. 

When to Seek Help

In some cases, common teen stress can become concerning if your teens starts experiencing an excessive or unrealistic amount of worry, anxiety, and fear. Anxiety that is excessive and unrealistic is different than the ‘normal’ level of stress that a teen may experience. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a diagnosis given to those who experience excessive and irrational worry for at least six months. The excessive anxiety interferes with the ability to function and usually consists of extreme anxiety for everyday matters. 

If you notice any of these changes in your teen, he or she may be experiencing high anxiety. First, try your best to effectively communicate with your child. It is very important to keep the lines of communication open, spend more one-on-one time each week with your teen, and listen carefully and respectfully without discounting their feelings. This may increase the likelihood that your teen will open up to you when he or she is feeling overwhelmed. 

If that doesn’t work, then taking your teen to see a licensed psychotherapist who specialized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) would be the next step. CBT techniques are effective in addressing adolescent anxiety disorders and can help your teen recognize the exaggerated nature of his or her fears and develop a corrective approach to the problem. Cognitive-behavioral therapy also tends to be specific to the anxiety problem, and the teen actively participates, which usually enhances their understanding. To find a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist in your area go to www.psychologytoday.com. 

How to Find Alison Seponara, MS, LPC:

Website: AlisonSeponara.com
Instagram: @theanxietyhealer
Facebook: Alison Seponara LPC
Email: AlisonSeponaraLPC@gmail.com

How do parents know when a teen may be struggling with anxiety and significant stress levels that interfere with learning and relationships?

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Hello There!

I'm so honored that you've found us! I'm Heather, a Mom of 3 who blogs about parenting, food, occasional travel and how I overcame my daily struggle with anxiety. I miss sleeping and rely on coffee and laughter to get me through the day. I hope you enjoy and visit often!

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  1. This is one of the things I am afraid of when my boys grow up. Thanks to this post, now I know what to do when that time comes.

  2. It’s during teenage years that kids tend to have problems regarding anything like school or friends. Those are some great tips and points to look for if you suspect your teen to have anxiety.

  3. My daughter will be turning into a teen soon so, as a parent, it is nice to be prepared to know what to expect and how to handle teen anxiety when the time comes

  4. anxiety presents in so many ways. my daughter suffers from anxiety big time. we are trying so many different way to help her along with medication.

  5. Physical changes can be tough and you just never know if it’s just a mood swing. I battled with depression when I was a teenager and it was quickly seen as anxiety disorder.

  6. As someone who suffered with chronic anxiety as a teen, I can definitely back up these points! Thank you so much for sharing something as important as this with your readers.

  7. These are all really important signs to look out for. My friend has a daughter going through this at the moment, I shall forward this to her

  8. I remember struggling with anxiety when I was younger. Eventually i got over it but I got over it when I was an adult. I wish I didn’t struggle as much as i did. I am glad you are talking about this topic.

  9. Such an important topic to address. I think a lot of teens experience anxiety as they find themselves and try to find their voice in a time where they feel pressure to fit in. Thanks for sharing.

  10. It’s all about moral support and also coaching. You also need to divert them out of social media and ask for more friends’ support.

  11. Anxiety is becoming so widespread among teenagers something needs to be done about it. This is great to detect it and deal with it, thank you.

  12. I had many anxious moments as a teen, and remember having trouble sleeping and getting a stomachache from worries. My faith, and my closeknit family were essential to weathering these little storms of life!

  13. This is great information that is needed for everyone! My teenager struggles with some anxiety that she sadly got from me. It is important to be there for them.

  14. Thank you for all of this information. A few teens I know experience anxiety but some moms have no idea what their kids are going through. I will be sharing this with them.

  15. I have bookmark your blog post. I do have teen nephews and my older sister is really stressing out. I also am a mother of a 10-year-old son now and will soon become a teenager, I will make sure to go back and review the signs and how to help them overcome anxiety.

  16. I love how this serves as an awareness and call to action to all parents out their. No one should ever downplay anxiety!

  17. thanks for sharing this awareness. i know a lot of friends have anxiety and all i can really do is to be there for them.

  18. Glad you have clearly highlighted which are the things to look out for. We have to pay more attention to teen and help them grow to be a fine adult.

  19. This was something I worried about when my daughter was a teenager. As a parent I felt helpless not knowing what was wrong or how to help.

  20. Thank you so much for this article. My son is newly a teenager and it’s like a whole new (scary) world has opened up. This is so helpful.

  21. Sadly, a friend of mine lost her 13 year old son to suicide last month. Even sadder was that he displayed none of the typical signs. I sat my teens down and had a long, hard conversation only to find out they were both struggling with things I’d never even think they’d wrestle with. It’s so important to have those conversations.

  22. I just read your bio in addition to your article. Our son suffers from DDMD, ADHD, PTSD and Anxiety. 2 steps forward then 1 step back. We are staying the course. Thank you for talking about it.

  23. I didn’t know the difference when my kiddos were teenagers. Thankfully there was someone nearby that did. This is something all parents should read to be aware of what their teens may be dealing with.

  24. My daughter has a little bit of anxiety related to her grades and tests. I think that is normal, but if it were spilling into everyday of her life I would intervene.

  25. This is helpful advice. It really is a good idea to keep an eye open for those behavioral changes. It’s nice when you can catch these things early so you can address them.

  26. This is such important information. The teen years are a minefield for both our kids and us. We have to be on the lookout for what could be something more than just stress, and usually our kids aren’t going to tell us.