The adolescent years in a teen’s life is very challenging as they go through various stages of physical and emotional development. The National Institute of Mental Health states anxiety is a normal reaction to stress; in general, it helps the person to cope, however, when anxiety becomes an excessive irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling disorder. Dacey and Fiore in their book Your Anxious Child reports that between 8 and 10 percent of American children and adolescents are seriously troubled by anxiety and it is currently the most prevalent psychiatric diagnosis in those sixteen years old and younger.
Parents of an anxious teen sometimes find it difficult to know whether their teen’s worries are harmless “what ifs” or if she is really having a serious problem. For an anxious teen, normal activities can become stressful and challenging and seem like a mountain that they will need to climb over.
There are various types of anxiety disorders that children and teens will experience such as social phobia, agoraphobia, panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder to name a few.
Social phobias tend to surface during adolescent years especially among excessively shy teens. Teens will avoid social situations even among their peers because they feel they’ll perform badly or be embarrassed.
Teens who suffer from agoraphobia may experience strong anxiety when they find themselves in circumstances in which they feel vulnerable. They feel they’ll be criticized if they walk away from a difficult situation therefore, they dwell on the feelings of being trapped. Teens with agoraphobia feel safest at home which will sometimes disrupt their lives and their family’s life.
Some symptoms of panic disorder are increased heart rate, sweating, chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, feelings of unrealistic detachment from self and fear of losing control or going crazy.
While symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder are restlessness, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, irritability and sleep disturbance. Teens with obsessive compulsive disorder will show signs such as excessively washing of hands, counting and checking everything twice before leaving the house.
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