Do you know that about 7.1% of teens aged between three and 17 years are diagnosed with anxiety? The numbers have been steadily growing over the years and it looks like the trend could go on if something is not done to address this problem.
Chronic anxiety could result in serious mental problems like substance use, depression, and even suicide. Students dropping out of school due to anxiety is no longer news. According to BasePoint Academy’s Teen program, as parents, teachers, family members, and those close to our teens, it’s important to create a safe space and help them overcome this problem – and it all starts with knowing the signs of anxiety.
So how can you tell that a teen is suffering from anxiety? We cover all you need to know in this article. Read it carefully and compare the signs with what you are seeing in your teen.
1. Emotional changes
Emotional change is a major symptom of anxiety in teens. But since some may be in their adolescent stage, it may be hard to link the changes to anxiety.
If your child has difficulties in concentrating, then you should be worried. You may not realize this until he or she starts performing poorly in class. Also, the teen may start experiencing mood changes like irritability and sadness. Any time someone approaches them they tend to overreact, even to the smallest provocation.
Other emotional changes associated with teen anxiety include;
- Feeling on edge
- Unexplained outbursts
2. Physical signs
If your teen starts complaining of psychosomatic disorders, you should listen and try figuring out what the problem could be. Such disorders involve the body and the brain and could be a red flag for teen depression and anxiety.
However, you should watch for patterns because not all psychosomatic disorders are symptoms of teen anxiety. If your teen experiences undecipherable pains and aches, take action.
Other hidden physical symptoms of teen anxiety include;
- Intemperate fatigue
- Eating too much or too little
- Frequent body complains without any medical cause
- Gastrointestinal problems
3. Panic attacks
Chronic stress often can result in a panic attack. Panic attacks are very frightening, both for the victim and those around him or her. However, some panic attacks are caused by anxiety – especially in teens.
Derealization is common in teens suffering from anxiety. One feels detached from everything around them – people and objects don’t seem to be real. It’s hard to identify this symptom unless the victims talk about it. The feeling of derealization is triggered by various factors including intense stress and traumatic events like accidents, abuse, disasters among others.
If your child starts experiencing some of the symptoms below, then just know he or she is struggling with anxiety.
- Sweating and trembling
- Difficulty in breathing
- Chest pains
- Upset stomach
- Rapid heartbeat
Also, some may start experiencing specific phobias like nausea and vomiting, numbness, choking sensation, and dry mouth. Such phobias may not present any real threat to the teen, but, they will still express their fear.
4. Social signs
If you notice some adjustments in your child’s social life, then you should follow up to identify the cause. Anxiety will lead to a teenager to isolate themselves and avoid others. They begin mistrusting others or just isolate themselves to hide what they are going through
Anxiety affects relationships negatively. You can tell if a teen is suffering from anxiety when they start avoiding their friends or stop engaging in their favorite activities.
For instance, if your son is used to playing football every weekend, then suddenly he stops, and the trend continues for three to five consecutive weeks, then you should start worrying. Approach them and gently inquire what could be the problem. They might not open up immediately but persistence with love from your end night convinces them to say whatever they are going through.
Also, if your once social teen starts spending most of their time alone, locked up in a room, then you should intervene. Don’t let them be alone because loneliness only makes a bad situation worse.
Other social signs of teen anxiety include;
- Your child refuses to go to school
- Refusing to speak in public or around people
- Fear of meeting new people
- Increased isolation
- Circumventing extracurricular activities
5. Sleep disturbance
Teens who experience sleep disturbance may or may not have anxiety.
Normally, children aged between 13 to 18 years are required to sleep for 8 to 10 hours for optimal health, anything less than that could be termed as sleep disturbance.
However, some things could make teens adjust their hours of sleep. For instance, some students find it best to study during late hours in search of good grades. Besides, most teens have access to mobile phones and laptops and I don’t need to explain how addictive these gadgets are. These things are normal and you won’t need to worry.
However, if the cause of disturbance results from unexplained reasons, then you have every reason to get worried as a parent. For example, if your teen has difficulty falling asleep, it could be a sign of anxiety. Other signs include frequent nightmares and trouble staying asleep.
So if your teen has a phone, laptop, or any other electronic gadget, make sure those devices are switched off 30minutes before they go to bed. Also, make sure there are no electronic gadgets inside their rooms. If they are still unable to sleep, then seek help.
Parents and guardians of teenage girls and boys need to be careful to notice hidden signs of teen anxiety. It’s only then that you can help them address the issues they are facing. You’ll notice it with their emotional changes, physical body changes, how they interact with others, and even how they sleep. It’s important to notice anxiety signs in their initial stages to counter them through therapy as early as possible. Once you suspect your teenager has anxiety and you have no idea how to approach the issue, find help from a pro therapist.