Is Your Teenager Struggling With Stress?
Do you find your teenager trying to juggle and manage multiple stressors including school, friends, relationships, and life at home? Is your teen feeling pressured to fit in with his/her peers? Does your teenager struggle to keep up with and balance the normal everyday tasks?
Many teenagers growing up today have a tremendous amount of stress due to pressures from academics, friendships, figuring out who they are, college admissions, and much more. The stress affects your teen by isolating them from their community and impacts their ability to function every day. Anxious teens isolate themselves out of fear that admitting to any anxiety and its impact would be judged by others or they would be seen as weak and out of control. Teens do not want to be seen as different or having a problem with anxiety. They often do not tell you, their parent, because they are trying to handle it and want to be independent and in control. Your teen might stay home from school and avoiding social situations to hide their anxiety. Spending increased time by themselves and avoiding being with others is often a sign that your teenager might be suffering from anxiety and need support from a therapist
There are key components to anxiety in teenagers that parents can recognize including: emotional changes, physical changes, sleep disturbances, poor school performance, and symptoms of panic attacks. Your teen might appear irritable, restless, on edge, and have difficulty not crying or overreacting to a situation. An increase in complaints of physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, increased exhaustion which are not due to any medical cause might be of some concern to you as the parent of a teenager. Anxious teens might have difficulty sleeping as they find it challenging to calm their anxieties at night. If your teenager has a change in their school achievement, this might lead you to wonder about whether anxiety might be causing their poor school work. There are some teenagers who have panic attacks which can feel strange with a possible rapid heartbeat, sweating and trembling, dizziness, difficulty breathing, and it can even feel like they are dying. During the panic attack, your teenager would have a difficult time communicating with anyone and only sees themselves as possibly crazy.
As a parent of an anxious teen, you might feel helpless and concerned. Many parents worry about how to address what signs of anxiety they have witnessed. Parenting styles vary and impact how we interact with our teens. A common reaction might be to just try to treat the anxiety with a statement of “it’s ok” and try to find the cause for the anxiety but not recognize how debilitating the anxiety is for your teenager. Your worry for your teenager might impact your own ability to concentrate on work, family matters, or take care of yourself. As parents, it is natural to be concerned about your children, but it is important to recognize the toll your teen’s anxiety is taking on you. Acknowledging and identifying the signs of your teen’s anxiety and it’s impact will be the beginning of treating your teenager’s anxiety.
How Do You Know When Your Teenager is Experiencing Too Much Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. Everyone experiences uneasiness for things like tests, meeting new people, speaking in public, starting a new school or job, going on a date, and competing in sports/activities. Anxiety can be a helpful alert as it helps a person deal with tense situations. For example, if when your teen studies for a test, a little anxiety might make them want to study extra hard to ensure that they will do their best.
However, some teens react more strongly to stressful situations than others and these teens might have tremendous distress. According to the National Institutes of Health, 25% adolescents ages 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder, and just under 6% have a severe anxiety disorder. These numbers have been rising steadily as anxiety disorders in children and teens went up 20% between 2012 and 2018. These anxious reactions to daily activities can be a warning sign to parents for teen counseling to assess whether the teenager is challenged with anxiety. This harmful anxious response impacts your teen because they will avoid going out with friends, not take care of themselves well, and have difficulty managing every day situations.
If you should recognize that your teenager is struggling with anxiety, then you should seek an evaluation with a therapist to obtain some teen counseling and provide you with some parental guidance. Anxiety is treatable, and most teenagers learn to cope with and manage their anxiety successfully.
Teen Counseling Can Help Your Teenager to Cope With Their Stress
Many teenagers are successful at managing their stress, but others need some support. I have been working with teenagers with anxiety for over twenty years. A strong relationship is vital to assist your teenager to manage their anxiety as it provides the space to allow your teenager to feel safe. I provide a warm, compassionate, and safe environment for your teenager to share their concerns, build upon their strengths, and guide and understand the areas that need growth. Teens struggle with control and independence and I recognize this as part of my work with your teenager. The therapeutic relationship I build with your teen will provide your teen with the confidence and control they need. If your teenager has spoken with a therapist previously, I explore what your teenager did not like about therapy. Not all therapists use the same approaches to teenagers. Some therapists do not use techniques that are empirically supported treatments. I see all teenagers as unique and not fitting into a cookie cutter mold of a teen which I believe allows me to build a rapport with your teenager. I help your teenager to focus on what s/he needs and wants to get out of therapy. This might include something that your teenager did receive from previous treatment so I will inquire what your teenager might have liked from their previous therapist. Overall, my goal is to help you and your teenager feel some relief from the stress that they are feeling and gain confidence for the future.
Many of the teenagers with whom I have worked benefit from cognitive behavioral treatment. This treatment helps teenagers to recognize and identify the repetitive thoughts that keep them static and stuck in their anxiety. Cognitive behavioral techniques can help your teenager to adopt new thoughts to assist them to manage any stress and anxiety that they encounter with new behaviors and reactions.
In our initial sessions, I will address the concerns you and your teenager have to ensure that I understand the magnitude of the problem and how each person sees it. Many teenagers have difficulty communicating their needs to adults and working with a therapist allows them to practice advocating for themselves. Teenagers will buy into the therapeutic process if they feel that the therapist will be honest and keep their confidence. It is my belief that every teenager is unique with a different perspective. Sharing what is happening inside one’s mind can be a scary experience especially for teenagers, I help teenagers understand what is happening, provide them with the language, and help them come with the best solutions to support each one through their current situation.
Usually, the following sessions will be with the teenager alone to address his/her anxiety. I explain the limitations of confidentiality, which includes your teenager being a risk of harming themselves or others, to both you and your teen to ensure there are no concerns. I always invite parents to communicate with me regarding any concerns they are having with their teenager.
Your teen will gain skills and confidence from treatment that will help them through the rest of their life. Imagine your life without the stress of your teen and their anxiety. I see a light at the end of the tunnel for your stress and your teenager’s anxiety. You will be able to enjoy time with your teen and see them being successful. Seeking counseling for you and your teen will be the answer.
You May Still Have Questions About Teen Counseling.
I think my teenager has anxiety and needs help, but is counseling really going to help?
As parents of teens know, convincing older kids to do something they don’t want to do is difficult. Teens are growing up which means they want and need more control and independence. However, sometimes teens might not be the best judge of what they need, and at those times it is essential for parents to give them an opportunity to discuss their thoughts and feelings. Many teenagers do not feel comfortable sharing their needs with their parents and a neutral, compassionate therapist can help. Having the space with a therapist can work towards improving your relationship with your teenager as well as allow you both to recognize what each are experiencing and understand the challenges each face daily.
What if my teenager doesn’t think they have a problem?
Sometimes teenagers do not think they have a problem or are ambivalent about treatment. I ask your teenager what they might want to get out of therapy to help the teenager buy into the therapeutic process. This helps to get your teenager motivated toward working together and helping to get everyone’s priorities attended to.
My teenager seems scared of therapy
Teenagers often start to identify with their anxiety which might develop an increase in their anxious thoughts and thus creates a vicious cycle of anxiety. The anxiety they feel makes them feel stuck and not able to engage with you or other adults. Some anxious teens become comfortable with their anxiety and get increasingly more protective of the anxiety because they cannot see how anxiety has taken over their lives. Therefore, the idea of getting treatment for their anxiety might be scary because they fear giving up the comfort their anxiety provides them. However, the therapy will allow your teenager to recognize how their anxiety has not been helpful, kept them stuck, and how they can adopt new valuable skills to help them cope with stressful situations.
You Don’t Have To Let Stress and Anxiety Control Your Teenager’s Life
If you would like your teenager to feel more relaxed and confident in his/her life, I would be honored to help. Please call 747-998-2148 to set up your free 15-minute consultation to see how teen counseling for anxiety could help you and your teenager.