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How to Help A Teen with Anxiety

Anxiety is a dehibilitating mental health problem. Here is how to help a teen with anxiety.

Want to know how to help a teen with anxiety?

40 million adults in the United States live with some type of anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the U.S., affecting over 18% of the population every year.

Young adults are particularly susceptible to developing an anxiety disorder, which can affect everything from social behavior and personal relationships to physical activity and academic performance.

Today, we are taking a closer look at how to help a teen with anxiety.

How to Help A Teen with Anxiety

Teen anxiety is on the rise.  Symptoms such as poor concentration, physical problems, confusion, and even an inability to form relationships. Some teens may prefer to withdraw and isolate from their peers due to feelings of anxiety.

If not treated, anxiety can become progressively worse for the teen suffering. It can also possibly turn into panic disorder, which is terrifying and can interfere with the teen living a happy lifestyle.

If you know a teen with anxiety, there are many things you can do to help. You can make a difference, aiding them in overcoming mental disorders such as anxiety. Keep reading to learn positive ways you can help.

Understand Anxiety

Until you learn everything about anxiety and truly understand it, you cannot appropriately help a teen who is suffering. With the wealth of information available online about anxiety and other mental health disorders, you can easily give yourself a crash course.

Agencies such as Teen Mental Health and the National Institute of Mental Health are great resources in gaining education on teens and anxiety.

Once you understand anxiety, you can better identify symptoms in teens. You can also learn how to approach the teen with anxiety and direct them to the right avenue for help.

Avoid Increasing Their Anxiety

Without meaning to, you may be increasing the anxiety of a teen just by trying to help them. There are incorrect ways and correct ways to offer help. How you approach the subject of anxiety with a teen is just as important as following through with help.

If you are too pushy, the teen may think you are trying to force them into treatment for something they think can be handled privately; also the teen may resent you for thinking they have a problem.

Some teens do not even realize what they are experiencing is anxiety. They may not believe you at first if you suggest the possibility of them struggling with a mental health disorder.

Avoid Stigmas

Teens are sensitive. They may already be thinking negative thoughts about why they have anxiety when their peers do not. It is important you avoid making them feel as if they are inferior for struggling with a mental illness.

Stigmas prevent teens and adults from seeking treatment. They will more likely to engage treatment once you help them understand they may be feeling more anxious than what's considered normal anxiety.

Do Not Guess

We all want the best for our kids, which is why we provide the help they need to succeed.

When it comes to mental health problems, it is best to seek the help of a professional with experience helping teens and young adults.

Nearly two-thirds of teens with mental health problems attend teen counseling.

There is so much access to information online about anxiety that it is easy to think you have the answers to someone’s problem. However, only a true mental health professional can diagnose a teen with anxiety or any other disorder.

Because so many symptoms can overlap or be mistaken for the wrong disorder, getting an official diagnosis from a counselor is key to obtaining the right kind of treatment.

Attend Therapy

Anyone involved with a teen suffering from anxiety issues could benefit from attending their own therapy at some point. You can learn ways to help ease their anxiety. You may also learn ways to help you cope with some of your own issues.

Attending a support group with a teen suffering from anxiety is another way to help. Although I recommend waiting to hear from your teen about their needs about you attending. The teen may benefit from learning to show up for group independently, to build confidence and lean on themselves.  It is also important to run by the possibility of you being in the group to support your teen by the mental health professional to obtain their clinical opinion of benefits vs. disadvantages.  Research has shown that people who attend support groups regularly are more likely to follow through with their treatment recommendations.  This may be because they feel accountable to the others in their group.

Participate in Recovery

Getting a teen to seek treatment and to follow through with counseling is just the beginning of their healing process. They have many obstacles to overcome even after treatment.

You can help a teen overcome anxiety issues by participating in treatment activities with them. Exercise is a wonderful way to ease anxiety. Even walking can boost brain chemicals that fight anxiety. Practicing mindfulness with an anxious teen can provide valuable solutions to overcoming anxiety in tense moments.

Mindfulness can include yoga, breathing techniques, acupuncture and other methods to make you more aware of your body’s needs before anxiety takes over.

Make Connections

Help teens with anxiety connect. Peers can be great teachers to one another. They are likely to take advice from someone they know understands anxiety. They can collaborate as a group to develop action plans for when they get anxious. They may create a support group online, through texting or through weekly meetings.

Once your teen is on the path to recovery, it is important you do not stop following up with them and checking on them. Mental health relapses do happen. Help your teen create a plan to avoid a mental health relapse.

Work with the teen’s therapist to develop a relapse prevention plan that can give you both steps to follow in case of potential triggers, or just on days that seem harder than others.

You can play a key role in helping a teen overcome their struggle with anxiety. You truly can make a difference in improving the life of a teen who suffers from a mental health disorder.