Unfortunately, teen anxiety disorders are increasingly common among adolescents, with roughly 25 percent of American teens between the ages of 13 and 18 having been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at some point.
Teens with anxiety disorders experience particularly high levels of anxiety and often struggle with feelings of tension and fear. As a result, these emotions can interfere with daily activities at work and school, as well as affect relationships with peers and family members.
Teens can be diagnosed with various types of anxiety disorders, the most common of which is generalized anxiety disorder. This type of anxiety involves excessive fear or worry over everyday events, which lasts for a prolonged period of time. Teens with generalized anxiety experience intense emotional stress, as well as a range of anxiety-related symptoms. Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include the following:
- Inability to control feelings of worry and stress
- Restlessness or edginess
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Sleep problems
Social anxiety is another type of anxiety disorder, and affects about 15 million Americans. Often referred to as social phobia, social anxiety disorder is when a person is overcome with fear and worry in social settings. Typically, a person with a social phobia experiences intense anxiety that leads to deep feelings of embarrassment and fear of being judged by others. Consequently, a teen with social phobia often withdraws and avoids contact with peers or adults. Thus, social anxiety can be paralyzing for teenagers in school and at family gatherings.
In most cases, anxiety attacks often begin in the late teens or early adulthood. They often result when an individual encounters a specific stressor, and will result in any or all of the following symptoms:
- Feeling fearful or full of dread
- Shortness of breath
- Racing heart
- Cold sweats
- Dizziness and wooziness
However, anxiety attacks tend to be short-lived, passing once the stressor is removed.
Treating Teen Anxiety Disorders
Normal levels of anxiety in teens can often be alleviated by positive habits and healthy behaviors such as:
- Better sleep routines
- Good nutrition
- Authentic, compassionate connections with family and peers
- Time spent unplugged in nature
- Mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation
In conclusion, anxiety disorders are both common and highly treatable. The earlier an anxiety disorder is assessed, diagnosed and addressed, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful.
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