Teens are increasingly struggling with anxiety disorders, which impact an estimated 31.9% of adolescents. Academic pressure, social stressors and societal unrest are often associated with teen anxiety. Not to mention how much the pandemic has added to our teens’ stress levels of late.
In addition to the mental health support teens obtain through a doctor or therapist, incorporating other coping techniques can prove helpful. These coping skills can aid a teen for their entire life when faced with stressful events.
What is Anxiety?
The Anxiety Disorder spectrum houses several different subtypes, with each subtype having its own specific features. The most common anxiety subtypes among adolescents are Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, and Panic Disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, trauma disorder and phobias are also part of the spectrum but are less common..
Common symptoms of anxiety may include:
- Excessive and irrational worrying
- Stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea
- Trembling or shaking
- Dry mouth
- Irritability; agitation
- Excessive sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Brain fog
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sense of panic or dread
- Being highly self-conscious
Anxiety can be debilitating, even disrupting the teen’s ability to function. When the symptoms become so severe that the teen is unable to attend school or participate in activities, a higher level of care is warranted. This is especially true if the teen uses a substance to help them manage the anxiety, or if there is more than one mental health disorder present. For example, Depression often co-occurs with Anxiety Disorder.
Adolescent Anxiety Tips
Fortunately, there are several coping tools readily available that can help mitigate the effects of anxiety.
We can be held captive to thought distractions that keep us ruminating about past events or worries about the future. Practicing mindfulness is about training your mind to refocus on the present moment and the sensory experience of the here and now. By intentionally focusing on other things you redirect your mind away from stressful thoughts and toward things that have a calming effect.
Focused breathing can almost immediately reduce your heart rate and respiratory rate, resulting in a relaxing effect. Deep breathing exercises are easy to do anytime, anywhere. Inhale slowly and deeply to a count of five. Hold the breath for a count of five, release the breath to a count of five and repeat five times.
Yoga combines purposeful movement, stretching, and focused breathing with mindfulness to achieve a calm, peaceful state of mind. There are many different variations of yoga, so explore some and find the best fit for you. Yoga helps you tone and strengthen the body while also quieting the mind.
Meditation is a technique that can result in deep relaxation by lowering the heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. Find a quiet place where you can sit alone, comfortably, with as few distractions as possible. Select something to focus on, such as your breathing, a candle flame, or a mantra, allowing your mind to empty. When your mind wanders, practice training it back to a focal point. Slowly build up from a few minutes early on to longer sessions.
If these anxiety coping tips do not achieve the desired results, seek out the help of a mental health professional. Through the use of evidence-based psychotherapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, or biofeedback, and medication, these experts can help teens better manage their symptoms of anxiety.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, and provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle – “everything for recovery” – reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.