Everything You Need to Know About Teenage Anxiety Symptoms
Types and Symptoms of Anxiety in TeensThe way symptoms of particular anxiety disorders manifest in children and adolescents often differ slightly from the way the symptoms of the same disorders manifest in adults. For this reason, it is important to familiarize yourself with the behaviors associated with the teenage versions of various anxiety disorders.
The descriptions below are summaries of those found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition or DSM-IV, the diagnostic reference manual used by most mental health professionals.
Safe Anti-Anxiety Treatments for TeensAs with anxiety symptoms, anxiety treatment recommendations for teen sufferers are slightly different from those prescribed for adults. Because teens' brains are still developing, it is best to avoid medications whenever possible and to begin by trying non-medical techniques for relieving anxiety, including:
- Exercise Exercise is the most important activity a teenager can do. Lots of teens think the idea of exercise is silly since fitness isn't exactly a teenager problem. But exercise does more than build muscles. It also releases chemicals in the brain that improve mood and relaxation, and tires muscles to decrease anxiety symptoms. It's one of the most valuable tools for controlling anxiety a person can integrate into their lives.
- A Healthy Diet A healthy body is often the key to a healthier mind. A healthy heart, lungs, and muscles lessen the strain that anxiety causes the body, and allow a teenager to participate comfortably in healthy stress-relieving leisure activities such as running, biking, hiking or swimming. Additionally, a healthy body improves self-image, which is a fragile thing during teenage years.
- Positive Feedback Letting a teen know that they are worthwhile and can do whatever they set their minds to will help them to retain a sense of worth as a person when mood swings and teenage drama get them down. Even when they do something stupid due to a lack of judgment, it is good to be as supportive as possible.
- A Supportive Attitude Even when a teen's desires and dreams seem unreasonable or far-fetched, bear in mind that the logic and judgment centers of their brains have yet to develop. They are more likely to want to do the opposite of what you say that follow through with doing something you casually approve of. This type of attitude will limit stress on the teen by making them feel as though they have someone on their side and also limit strain in familial relationships.
- Meditation Meditation is a great way for teens to get time to themselves and also a method of teaching them to discipline their minds and bodies to work for rather than against them. Learning controlled breathing techniques and how to relax their minds at will help them to cope with all the stresses they face on a daily basis and provide them with a drug and risk-free method of escaping reality.
- Joining a Club Finding a club to join is a good idea even for teens that are not as comfortable in social situations. Clubs allow teens to engage in activities they are passionate about, with people who share the same interests, rather than forcing them to assimilate to fit in socially and have friends. Having people to talk to and stuff to do, whether it's knitting, reading, playing chess or protecting animal rights, is a reliable way to relieve stress and promote positivity and purpose.
- Self-Help Books or Groups Self-help books are a more private way of seeking help, while groups offer support from peers going through similar challenges. These types of resources can provide a teen with tips and philosophies to help them to cope better with their anxiety symptoms and to prevent anxiety from controlling their lives.
- Therapy Therapy provides a teen with someone to talk to about their anxiety on a regular basis and to offer them support and help when they have trouble finding it elsewhere. It teaches coping mechanisms to teens for dealing with the causes of their anxiety and helps to uncover unhelpful the negative beliefs and thought patterns the teen may harbor that lead them to feel anxiety. Altering these beliefs and unhealthy thought patterns is often a crucial step towards defeating teenage anxiety.
- Keeping a Journal Keeping a daily journal is a great way to facilitate the process of uncovering negative beliefs and thought patterns that contribute to anxiety, as well as providing teens with a healthy, creative and productive outlet for their thoughts and feelings.
It is also important to bear in mind that if a teen does not feel that their condition is impeding their life, that they should not be treated as though they are sick unless they are endangering themselves or others. Teenagers are likely at an age where they need to feel control, and if they're forced into therapy they may rebel.
An Effective Anxiety Treatment for TeensIf the above methods have been tried and the teen still isn't responding, it may be time to consult a psychiatrist to recommend a medication that is safe for teens. Medications are necessary in some cases where chemical imbalances have become too severe to balance out on their own, and their necessity, if it arises, should not be looked upon as a weakness of character or a failing of any person involved.
The sooner severe, life-impeding anxiety is addressed, the sooner a teen can move on to living the healthy and fulfilling life they want for themselves without anxiety holding them back.