It’s estimated that more than more than 17 million children in the US suffer from a diagnosable psychological disorder, the most common of which is anxiety. And the unfortunate fact is that the median age of onset for anxiety disorders is six years.
There are various types of anxiety disorders and they range greatly in severity. If you suspect your teenager may be dealing with anxiety, it’s important to properly diagnose the disorder and find ways to help him or her cope.
Try natural remedies
Some natural remedies are actually very beneficial for anxiety, especially when you first notice symptoms or if the disorder is mild. Getting plenty of sleep, for example, has plenty of health benefits, including the reduction of anxiety.
Some people also find aromatherapy helpful, diffusing essential oils such as lavender, sandalwood, or bergamot. And practices like yoga and meditation have been found to reduce even severe anxiety symptoms. If the symptoms seem severe, however, these shouldn’t be substitutes for professional help.
If you notice your teen struggling with anxiety showing symptoms which could signal a disorder, it’s important to seek counseling right away. A therapist can properly diagnose your teen and help determine the severity of the disorder. In some cases, therapy is all they need.
Helping your child recognize the problem and giving him or her the tools to deal with it may be the only course of treatment needed. However, in some cases, the disorder can be more severe than you realized. Or they could be suffering from other mental illnesses that only a professional can diagnose. In some situations, doctors recommend medication or therapy in teenage treatment centers.
Limit social media exposure
Many parents today express concerns about their kids’ constant exposure to social media. And limiting the time they spend on it is not always easy. But a study on Australian teens showed that the “heaviest social media users experience the greatest amount of anxiety related to FOMO (fear of missing out).” While not all social media exposure is bad, it may be helpful to set certain rules and boundaries around it.
For example, you could set a rule that no one can be on social media at all from the hours of 7-9 p.m. Or you could limit their screen time altogether. The important thing to note is that every teen is different and you should come up with solutions that work in your household.
Some anxiety is self-inflicted, even in adults. We tend to over-extend ourselves and volunteer for activities that push us to our limits. This can be especially true for high-performing children who wish to be a part of as many activities as possible. As a parent of a teen with anxiety, it’s beneficial to set boundaries and limit your child’s activities.
It’s sometimes beneficial to create a list of everything they’re involved in and number them by importance. Help them remove items that they don’t truly enjoy, or items that they’re doing out of misplaced obligation. Sometimes you can help them by being the “bad guy”. Offer to withdraw them from their unneeded obligations yourself so as not to increase their anxiety of confrontation or failure.
Physical activity is one of the most effective treatments for many psychological disorders, including depression and anxiety. And while the effects are still being studied, there are some hypotheses for why it helps. For one thing, exercising releases endorphins in your brain that can enhance euphoric feelings. Beyond this, consistent exercise can boost your self-confidence and allow you a release from your common stress-factors.
For teens, it’s important to encourage them to get involved in school sports or simply take them to the gym with you. After all, modeling appropriate behavior is also a helpful tool for kids.