Is your son or daughter feeling the effects of teen anxiety? If so, you are not alone. Anxiety in teenagers is very common and becoming more so all the time. This can be bewildering for the teenager concerned, as well as parents and other family members. It’s normal to feel nervous about important tests or a first date, but when anxiety gets out of control it can make every day seem like an insurmountable obstacle course.
What causes teen anxiety?
Anxiety is widespread among all age groups. However, it is becoming increasingly common specifically among adolescents and young adults. Teen anxiety is a product of two factors: biology and environment. Adolescents are going through changes in their body and brain chemistry that are enormously stressful. The brain develops unevenly and teenagers have to learn to experience adult emotions and urges with a brain that is still not fully mature. They are also aware of transitioning from childhood, where they were looked after and decisions were made for them, to independent adulthood. They increasingly have to learn how to plan, make decisions, and face challenges on their own.
Modern technology and lifestyles are intensifying teen anxiety. Iphones and social media have extended the pressure to fit in and be cool into every minute of life. Modern teenagers have lost much of the freedom to leave the social rat race and chill out without FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). As the world changes more rapidly than ever, teenagers have to navigate new technologies with no prior guides to fall back on.
Reach out for help
It’s important to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy anxiety. If your teenage son or daughter is nervous about SATs, then offer your support and help to draw up a revision timetable. However, if he or she is finding things daunting on a daily basis, or tells you that anxiety has become a source of misery that’s affecting every area of life, then it’s time to think about help. Positive psychology is effective in helping a teenager find his or her own strengths and gain confidence by developing them. Psychodrama can help by teaching an adolescent how to respond positively to challenges, and experience the satisfaction of solving them.
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