Being a teenager can be overwhelming: school, homework, social activities, and worrying about the future can cause lots of stress. We’re stuck in this phase between childhood and adulthood, where we’re too young to know what we’re doing but old enough to be expected to know.

On top of that, we often feel the need to conform to our parents’ and friends’ wishes; our lives are not ours yet. We’re told that we have to act and look a certain way; be the person that others want us to be. Without our own identities, how are we expected to decide our futures?

It’s therefore understandable that teenagers frequently deal with anxiety. For many, it’s minor. For some, it’s debilitating.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 25% of 13- to 18-year-olds have an anxiety disorder, and about 6% have a severe anxiety disorder. The prevalence of anxiety disorders has increased in recent decades, too. More teens are feeling more stressed, overwhelmed, and panicked.

Parents and teens alike can recognize the signs of anxiety before it becomes serious. Anxiety in teens can manifest in six ways: emotional changes (eg. irritability and difficulty concentrating), physical changes (frequent headaches and excessive fatigue), social changes (avoiding friends and isolating oneself), sleep disturbances (difficulty falling and staying asleep), poor school performance (significantly worse grades and frequently missed assignments), and anxiety attacks (accelerated heart rate and dizziness).

By identifying anxiety before it develops into a disorder, teenagers can begin to get their normal lives back. If a teenager does develop an anxiety disorder, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia, more serious steps should be taken, like seeing a therapist and taking medication.

Although these steps are difficult for many people to follow, they are necessary. Anxiety in teens can affect not only their present, but their future. For example, with bad grades, a teenager could lose her chance of going to college; lose her ability to attain a steady job; and, finally, not be able to support herself financially.

In short, seeking timely treatment can make all the difference—for teens as well as for everyone else.

Until next week,

Sophia

©2019 Do No Harm Foundation

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