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Tips for Living with Anxiety

a mother and daughter discuss tips for living with anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the United States. Chronic anxiety can lead to more severe mental health issues, including depression, substance use disorders, and suicide. At Imagine Nampa, our anxiety treatment program helps teens aged 12-17 recover from anxiety disorders. If your teen is struggling with chronic anxiety, reach out to our team at 888.503.4604.

Recognizing Anxiety in Teens

The teenage years involve change, growth, and new challenges. Teens’ brains are changing. They seek more independence and autonomy and try to establish who they are. Stress and anxiety surrounding these transitions are expected. Anxiety is part of the normal range of emotions, and for most, it doesn’t last and goes away on its own. Anxiety becomes a concern when it is very intense, lasts for weeks or months, and interferes with daily functioning.

Symptoms of anxiety can vary widely between individuals. However, typical signs to watch out for can include, but are not limited to:

  • Anger and irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Recurring fear or worry about routine parts of daily life
  • Extreme sensitivity to criticism
  • Avoidance of people, places, or events
  • Chronic somatic complaints like headaches and stomachaches
  • Declining school performance or school refusal
  • Withdrawal from social activity
  • Sleep disturbances

Thankfully, anxiety disorders are highly treatable. However, untreated anxiety disorders will worsen over time and can lead to more serious mental health disorders, including depression and substance use disorders.

Tips for Managing Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal stress reaction and can be beneficial in helping teens cope with tense or overwhelming situations. An example of anxiety being beneficial is when it prompts a teen to put in extra time studying to do well on an exam.

Teens who suffer from clinical anxiety experience challenges in their daily lives that impact their functioning. Many teens suffering from anxiety believe they are the only ones experiencing these feelings. Teens need to know that anxiety is common and help is available. There are many things teens can learn to help manage anxiety, including:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Staying physically active
  • Mind-body practices, including yoga, tai chi, and qigong
  • Journaling
  • Identifying triggers
  • Reframing negative thoughts

Lifestyle changes, such as having a regular sleep routine, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding caffeine, can also help reduce anxiety symptoms.

How Parents Can Help Teens with Anxiety

When your teen has an anxiety disorder, life can feel unbearable for them. As a parent, you may struggle to know how to best support your child. Knowing what not to say is as important as knowing what to say. Some of the ways parents can help teens cope with anxiety include:

  • Validate their emotions – Acknowledge your teen’s fears and feelings. Ignoring or dismissing their worry with platitudes like “everything will be okay” can invalidate their feelings or shame them.
  • Stick to a schedule – A regular routine helps provide a sense of structure that can help mediate anxiety.
  • Set limits on social media – Teens are heavily influenced by what they see on social media. In addition, their self-worth can become tied to responses on social media posts. The constant access to information about events like school shootings, natural disasters, and COVID-19 can trigger anxiety.
  • Be mindful of expectations – High expectations can help teens reach their potential. However, today’s teens report higher rates of feeling pressure to succeed than in the past. Make sure your expectations are realistic and not too high.

Parents should also monitor their teens’ habits to watch for changes. Make time to talk with your teen daily without distractions. If your child is suffering from anxiety, let them know they are not alone.

Discover Teen Anxiety Treatment at Imagine Nampa

Untreated anxiety can worsen over time and lead to other mental health complications. At Imagine Nampa, we are committed to serving the mental health needs of adolescents ages 12-17 and their families.

We offer a range of evidence-based, holistic treatment modalities, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Crisis intervention
  • Trauma therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Art and music therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy

We are committed to helping teens learn to manage anxiety disorders to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Contact our team using our secure online form or calling 888.503.4604.