We all deal with anxiety during our lives. Faced with mounting pressures from a variety of sources, including work, school, friendships, and family, balancing these various responsibilities can, at times, feel overwhelming. Now, imagine trying to juggle all these factors while undergoing the daily trials of young adulthood. Compared to adults, teenagers and young adults often don’t have the experience and resources to effectively manage the sources of their anxiety.
This is why, as a parent, it’s important to be able to recognize social anxiety symptoms in teens so you can then help them through this common mental health issue. Social anxiety and other anxiety disorders are relatively common, but they’re also very treatable. With the right guidance and support, anxiety can be treated and your teen can go on to live a healthy, social, and fulfilling life.
Here, we’re taking a closer look at the common social anxiety symptoms in teens and how you, as a parent, can help your teen if you believe they’re experiencing this mental health disorder. We also review some of the most common causes of anxiety in teens and the most effective treatment methods to give them back control over their lives.
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
We all experience fears and anxiety throughout our lives, but this is much different than having a medically diagnosed anxiety disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, an anxiety disorder is characterized by someone having excessive and persistent worries or fears about everyday situations and issues. Anxiety disorders are also characterized by repeated episodes of sudden and intense feelings (known as panic attacks) in response to people or situations.
WHAT CAUSES ANXIETY IN TEENS?
While anyone of any age can experience anxiety, teens are undergoing intense life changes at a time when their bodies, hormones, and social positioning are all rapidly changing. This makes teens particularly vulnerable to anxiety.
But what exactly causes anxiety in teens? While each case is indeed unique, there are some common factors that serve as the source for a majority of teen anxiety cases.
Social and Peer Pressure:
Teens must juggle pressure from a variety of different sources, including school, sports teams, friends, and family. While this could be overwhelming for anyone, teens often don’t have the experience to effectively handle all these pressures. Additionally, peer pressure is even more powerful during these years as forming friendships and romantic relationships are both extremely important.
At no other time in your life is your body producing as many hormones as during your teen years. Understanding and handling these hormonal changes can be a challenge and lead to anxiety.
Many teens may experiment with drugs or alcohol. When using the substances becomes too persistent, it can actually lead to mental health disorders, such as anxiety. Some teens already experiencing anxiety may use drugs or alcohol to self-diagnose and deal with their symptoms.
Recovering from any form of trauma is difficult. For teens, this may lead to the development of anxiety or substance abuse that can make anxiety even worse. Trauma is difficult to talk about, but it’s essential to open a dialogue with your teen to help them access the resources to help them recover.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF SOCIAL ANXIETY IN TEENS?
Like any other mental health issue, each case of social anxiety is unique to the individual. Especially for teens, they may only express a few symptoms as they attempt to understand their own condition, and perhaps out of fear or shame, try to hide it from others. However, doctors and mental health specialists have still been able to identify common signs of anxiety in teens that can help you recognize the disorder and provide the necessary care for your teen.
Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety in teens include:
- Withdrawal from social activities they once loved.
- Recurring fears and worries (often over small issues).
- Anger or irritability.
- Poor performance in school.
- Sleep issues (sleeping too much or too little).
- Trouble concentrating.
- Substance abuse.
- Fear of new challenges or situations.
- Severe self-consciousness.
TREATMENT FOR ANXIETY IN TEENS
If openly addressed, teen anxiety is a very treatable mental health condition. As such a common condition, doctors and mental health specialists have developed various treatment methods that can prove effective for your teen. What’s most important early on is to talk openly and honestly with your teen to understand what they’re experiencing. When everyone is on board that professional treatment would be beneficial, then you can reach out to your doctor. Most likely, they will refer you to a mental health specialist, perhaps even one who specializes in working with teens, to ensure they receive the best care and treatment possible.
Generally, there are three main treatment methods for teen anxiety:
Also known as psychotherapy, this common treatment method relies on direct counseling with a trained mental health professional. Whether based one-on-one or in a group setting (family therapy is rather effective), this type of therapy can help your teen understand their condition, connect with others, and develop healthy habits.
Medication is used far less in treating teen anxiety due to the potential for unwanted side effects. However, in some cases, anxiety or other mental health disorders can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Certain anti-anxiety medications can help restore balance and stabilize your teen. In many cases, medication will be prescribed as a treatment in addition to psychotherapy or family therapy.
Residential Treatment Centers:
In some cases, it may be most beneficial for your teen to enter an in-patient residential teen treatment center. These specialized facilities offer around-the-clock care and support for your teen as they heal, recover, and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
CONCLUSION – WHAT ARE THE COMMON SOCIAL ANXIETY SYMPTOMS IN TEENS?
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, but some people deal with a much more intensive form of this mental health condition. For teens especially, it can be difficult to understand and talk about anxiety—which only makes it worse. If you believe your teen is experiencing anxiety, talk with them openly from a place of love and support to determine if professional help would be beneficial. By understanding the causes and common symptoms of anxiety, it becomes much easier to help them get the help they need.