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Teens and Anxiety ScreenshotTeens and Anxiety

Although anxiety in teens is a natural and important emotion, it can sometimes become an uncomfortable, unhealthy response. These days, teenagers are experiencing a great number of stressors academically, socially, and sometimes even with family relationships. Due to the many unknowns that a teenager faces, some experience low-levels of anxiety that rarely interferes with functioning. However, for some teens, anxiety can become significant and chronic, consistently interfering with day to day tasks such as sleeping, school attendance and performance, and within social relationships. Additionally, the anxiety may be experienced as generalized feelings of nervousness or uneasiness, or it may escalate to more severe levels of panic and/or phobias.

How do I know what to look for with teens and anxiety?

  • Feeling anxious, afraid, or worried for no reason. Teens typically feel anxiety due to specific events or situations, such as when going out on a date, being around new friends, or taking a test. However, if there is no obvious reason for the anxiety, your level may be too high.
  • Repeatedly checking to make sure you did something right. Although checking to make sure you did something right, continually checking it over and over is a sign you have too much anxiety.
  • Worrying excessively about day to day events or activities. Even though some worry is completely normal, constant and continual worry about things that are not out of the ordinary is a sign that your anxiety is too high.
  • When you experience extremely high levels of anxiety, such as panic, when in certain situations such as giving a speech or taking a test.

How does treatment work?

There are many effective treatment options available for children and teens with anxiety, including cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that teaches techniques and coping skills to your child that he or she can use to manage and reduce anxiety.

CBT helps your child learn to identify and replace negative thoughts and behaviors with more positive ones. Your child will also learn how to identify “irrational” or distorted thoughts and then separate these thoughts from “rational” thoughts. Homework assignments are typically given so that your child may practice what he or she learns in therapy, and continue to use in the future to manage anxiety.

Other forms of therapy may include:

Acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, which uses strategies such as acceptance and mindfulness (a state of active, open attention to the present) as a way to cope with negative and intrusive thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, which emphasizes taking responsibility for one’s problems and helps children and teens better understand how they deal with intense negative emotions.

Friday Skills Group

This group is a social skills group that allows members to develop and maintain positive relationships with people who struggle with relating to others.

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