Is Your Teen Anxious? 5 Signs to Look For and 5 Ways You Can Help

An anxious teenage girl with red hair pressing her head against a blackboard filled with maths - anxious teen

Have you noticed that your teenager seems different lately? I’m not talking about dressing differently or sporting a new hairstyle. Rather, does your teenager seem more anxious and on edge? If so, consider these signs of anxiety and some ways you can help your teen cope with and overcome their anxiety.

5 Signs your teen might be anxious

There are several things to think about when determining whether or not your teen is struggling with anxiety. For example:

1.Isolating themselves

as your child been isolating themselves by staying in their room or always “plugged-in” with their phones and earpieces when others are around? Isolating may help reduce the number of interactions your teen has to make with other people, but it won’t eliminate their anxiety.

2. Eating patterns have changed

Are there any eating habits that have changed recently? Those with anxiety may eat less than they typically would or, on the flip side, will overindulge and eat way too much. Food is an unhealthy coping tool that people with anxiety often used to provide comfort, to help manage their feelings.

3. School reports

Has the school life been stressful? Is there a perceived need to be perfect and get perfect marks? Or, has your child typically been an exemplary student, but lately, their grades are not where they had been? School can create anxiety for lots of reasons, not just academic, but also from the social interactions and dynamics that are present.

4. Being more angry

Have you noticed your son or daughter being snappy, on edge, or even getting into arguments with you or others, such as teachers, coaches, and even peers? Often anger is a sign that there are deeper issues at work. It is easy to lash out at what you perceive as a problem.

5. Substance use

Have you found evidence of drug or alcohol use? Has your child been in trouble for bringing substances to school? People often use depressants such as alcohol and marijuana to help “numb” their feelings of anxiety.

Each of these topics is of concern in its own right. You might find that your teen displays several or all of the above signs, or you may only see one symptom. Either way, you need to consider the deeper question: “Why is this happening?” before you can to begin to connect the dots.

5 Ways to help your anxious teen cope

Here are some ideas to help your anxious teen cope with their anxiety.

1. Let them know you want to help them, not judge them

This might be hard, given some of their behaviour, but try to keep an open mind and let them know that you care about them and their well-being, no matter what they are feeling or what they do.

2. Seek to understand why they are anxious

Has there been an incident or trigger to cause the anxiety? Sometimes, anxiety can develop after they have experienced a traumatic or troublesome event. Other times there might have been a sense of anxiety building over time? Are you anxious? Often, anxiety seems almost contagious.

3. Make your home a more calming place.

Paint their room a more soothing colour, such as blue. Play calming music in the home. Get rid of caffeinated and high-sugar beverages like coffee and sodas.

4. Spend time together in nature

Go for a walk in the park or on a hiking trail with your teen. Visit a garden together or take a walk along the coastline. Being out in nature has proven mental health benefits, builds fitness and provides a relaxing time to chat together.

5. Practice breathing exercises

These will help your teen to control their respiratory rate better, helping then stay calm when stressed. Check out our mindfulness resources and breathing exercises. They do help.

Other resources

Check out our anxiety page and related blog posts for other tips on managing anxiety. You might also find the self-help booklets and guided meditations and relaxation techniques provided by the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS trust quite helpful.

Getting professional help for anxiety

Anxiety is a severe condition for anyone at any age. However, it can be especially difficult for teenagers because they are still developing, both physically and emotionally. As a parent, be aware of the signs, ask questions, and let your teen know that you’re there to help.

You might consider getting professional help from a counsellor to help you or your teen manage anxiety.  A counsellor can help teach healthy coping skills for dealing with anxiety. Also, working together, they can better understand what is causing the anxiety in the first place, and take steps toward resolving the cause.

If you would like to talk with someone about anxiety, why not call us today. Our non-judgemental counsellors would be happy to speak with you or your teen. You can call us on 0151 329 3637, email enquiries@counselling-matters.org.uk or complete our online referral form. We look forward to speaking with you.

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