We believe that at some point in our lives, we all experience anxiety. Anxiety can be a natural response to the stress we feel. It’s a feeling of fear or worry about future situations or experiences. You may feel tense, you might start breathing a little fast and your heart might start to race when you’re anxious since our body starts to function by using the stress response, releasing adrenaline and cortisol. These stress hormones that increase from the physiological reaction to anxiety can create long-term health consequences.
One example of situations that might cause anxiety is the first day of a new job, the first day of a new school or doing a presentation may cause most people to feel anxious. On these occasions, you might feel higher amounts of stress and worry, leading to a wide range of ways that your body might physically feel. However, these experiences of increased stress or anxiety due to a specific upcoming event is very normal and a part of life’s experiences.
On the other hand, if these feelings are extreme, overwhelming and don’t go away or last for longer than six months and interfere with your day to day activities and behaviour, it can be a sign of a more serious anxiety disorder.
Anxiety is very common in the teenage years. However, it can be especially serious for them because they are still growing. It’s true that teens seek new experiences, but they also might worry about the new changes and challenges. Therefore, if left untreated, anxiety disorders in young people can have long-term effects and they can even last till their adulthood.
So as we mentioned before, anxiety is something common in teens. So how to know whether it is just anxious feelings or it’s something more serious than that?
- Signs of “normal” amounts of anxiety include:
- Restlessness or fatigue
- Fast breathing
- Rising heart rate
- Trouble with concentrating
- Difficulty in falling asleep
- Signs of anxiety disorder:
- Constant agitation and tension
- Having trouble with sleeping
- Having trouble with concentrating – School work, exams, presentations
- Avoiding new situations
- Can’t help but to have negative thoughts
- Always expecting something bad to happen
- Being extremely self-conscious
- Uncontrollable and persistent worry
Other than these signs, one who has anxiety disorder might show physical symptoms like stomach aches, sweating, racing heart, sore muscles or headaches.
However, one of the most important things you should know is that not every teen has the same symptoms. This varies from one teen to another. Teenagers can experience many different types of anxiety disorders. As we mentioned before, it depends on the person and varies from one to another.
- Social anxiety or social phobia – triggered by social situations or when interacting or speaking with others
- Generalised anxiety disorder – the most common anxiety disorder which can makes someone worries excessively about many things
- Specific phobias – cause people to avoid intense fears of specific situations or things Post-traumatic stress disorder – results from a traumatic or horrifying experience.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder – this takes the form of bad thoughts and actions that try to relieve anxiety
- Panic disorder – physiological attacks that randomly and frequently occurs
Anxiety treatments for teenagers are optional. That means you can either explore treatments or change your lifestyle. However, for most teens, medical treatments are not necessary. On the other hand, in severe cases treatments can help you overcome anxiety and lead a manageable daily life.
We suggest you these strategies to try on to get rid of the mild to moderate anxiety you have:
- Practice yourself to have a healthy lifestyle – get enough sleep, eat well and do some exercise
- Practice mindfulness or meditation to reduce your stress level
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes
- Practice yourself to deal with the situations that cause anxiety
However, if it is beyond your control, you might need to seek help as soon as possible:
- Cognitive behaviour therapy
- Psychological therapies
- Medical treatments like antidepressants
It’s important to know that anxiety can be treated, even in severe cases. However, we know that dealing with this during your teen years can be tough. But if you reach out to someone to seek help it can be easier for you to cope with it.