Given all the academic and social pressures teens face, it’s normal to experience anxiety at times. Anxiety is our body’s way of dealing with stress. The brain responds by increasing your heart rate and you may sweat and feel uneasy or anxious. For approximately 25% of teens, these symptoms go beyond the typical and begin to interfere with their daily school, home, and social lives. As a parent, you may feel helpless, but there are some things you can do when it comes to supporting your teen with anxiety.
What Teen Anxiety can Look Like
Symptoms of anxiety can vary with every teen. They can manifest themselves through behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and physical symptoms.
Behaviors– Avoidance of situations and people, skin picking, hair pulling, nail-biting.
Feelings– Overwhelmed, fearful, dread.
Thoughts– Negative thoughts, excessive worry.
Physical Symptoms– Racing heartbeat, stomach issues, tense muscles, sweating, tightening in the chest.
How Parents Can Help
Anxiety is not a sign of weakness. It takes a lot of strength and resilience to deal with the overwhelming symptoms your teen faces daily. By educating yourself on anxiety disorders and what they are going through, you can provide better support as a parent. Here are some ways parents can help their teen to reduce symptoms of anxiety:
Affirming they are enough– The pressure to be perfect is a challenge for everyone, but things you say can foster perfectionism as a parent. Instead of phrases that suggest they could do better, switch those for understanding why they are disappointed and that everyone makes mistakes.
Support without judgment– Teens need and want to feel understood. Practicing empathy and holding back judgment goes a long way. Talk to them about how experiences make them feel and try and understand them.
Normalize fear– Have open conversations with your teen about their fears and share what makes you afraid.
Encourage exercise- Mental health issues have long positively benefited from exercise. Getting your heart rate going helps calm the parts of the brain that cause anxiety symptoms. Encourage your teen to get moving and help them choose something they will stay with. Try different things and join in at least five times a week for 20 minutes or more.
Supporting your teen with anxiety may involve more than emotional affirmations and support. If your teen’s anxiety interferes with their daily lives, they may need treatment through medication intervention, psychological therapy, or a combination.
Teen anxiety is considered a rising epidemic, and the need for effective therapies to cover every age, gender, and other demographic is vital. Clinical research studies and the volunteers who participate in them help determine if potential new anxiety options are safe and effective. By participating in future anxiety research studies, you can benefit from learning more about your condition and improving care for it. To learn more about the upcoming studies here at Finger Lakes Clinical Research for kids and teens aged 7-17 with anxiety, call .