How to Treat Anxiety in Teens

Anxiety, worry and nervousness are normal, healthy and useful feelings in appropriate doses and at appropriate times. We all need to feel a little nervous about getting too close to the edge of a cliff, for example. Fear of falling and dying would be absolutely justified in this context, and our anxiety about that possibility keeps us alive and safe. It’s also normal to feel a bit nervous before a big event, before an important exam or before meeting an authority figure. Our nerves should dissipate quickly though, and certainly shouldn’t hinder our ability to function. Chronic anxiety refers to feelings of worry or fear that linger for long periods of time, that aren’t justified based on the context, and that interfere with one’s ability to function in life. The teenage years represent the first time that an anxiety disorder will typically rear its ugly head. Fortunately, anxiety in teens can be managed with a treatment plan, so that teens can continue to have fun and enjoy new experiences.

Signs of Anxiety in Teens

Anxiety might be situational, meaning that teens experience symptoms in advance of a specific situation, such as a test or presentation. Other times, anxiety may have a constant, numbing presence with no specific trigger. Either way, common signs of anxiety in teens include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue, even with plenty of sleep
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling claustrophobic and a need to “escape” a room or place

Treatment Options for Anxiety in Teens

Anxiety in teens can be treated from several different angles. Medication can be used to help “dial back” some of the symptoms. Therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy provide a long-term solution in which teens are taught tangible tips about how to change their thought patterns and behaviors in order to remain calm and confident. Self-care practices are also encouraged, which might include yoga or acupuncture to help an anxious teen relax and release the tension being held within the body. Speaking to a counselor or psychiatrist is an excellent place to start. Anxiety might come and go throughout one’s life, so having the tools to effectively manage it starting in the teen years can be a huge relief. Resources

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