The world has drastically changed in the past 5 months. Everything from the way we work to the way we are able to interact with family and friends has shifted, and all that change can be challenging for teens who already struggle with anxiety. And while it is normal to feel worried during a pandemic, there are ways to identify a more serious anxiety disorder in your teen and offer them support.
Are They Worried or Is it Anxiety?
According to the Mayo Clinic: “people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).” Anxiety disorders manifest in different ways:
- Generalized anxiety disorder is a chronic state of severe worry and tension, often without provocation.
- Panic disorder refers to sudden and repeated panic attacks—episodes of intense fear and discomfort that peak within a few minutes.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder is marked by intrusive thoughts or compulsions to carry out specific behaviors, such as handwashing.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder may develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.
If your teen is exhibiting any of the above behaviors or has received a formal diagnosis, there are ways that you can help them manage their anxiety.
5 Tips for Helping Your Teen During a Pandemic
Foster Positive Relationships
- Even though we often expect teenagers to act more like adults, their brains are still forming a changing. It is important for teens with anxiety to have a strong familial connection, whether that be with a parent or guardian. This deep and sustaining bond can help teens feel grounded and connected.
Help Them Be Flexible
- Help your teen let go of the idea of perfection. They don’t need to do everything absolutely perfectly. Give them the space to make mistakes and learn in the process. If they’re anxious about a new school format this fall, remind them that everyone will be learning this new system together.
Normalize Being Worried
- The last thing someone with anxiety wants to hear, is that there’s nothing to be worried about. Verbalize to your teen that it is absolutely normal to be worried right now. Let them know that they are allowed to feel their feelings and give them the support they need while they explore those feelings.
- Empathy is a powerful tool in a parent’s toolbox. When a teen is expressing their anxiety (through words or actions) it can be incredibly impactful for parents to sit with them and engage through questions like “How did that make you feel?” or “What are you feeling in your body?”
- If you feel that your child’s anxiety is spiraling out of control, there are options such as a Residential Treatment Center. These programs are designed to provide a warm, inviting setting with a strong focus on individual growth and academic progress.
Solstice Residential Treatment Center is a program for troubled adolescent girls that emphasizes the mind-body connection in our unique approach to holistic healthcare. With a strong emphasis on family therapy based intervention, nutrition, and physical fitness, and the supportive provision of cutting-edge academics, substance abuse/addiction therapy, equine therapy, and psychiatric services, Solstice sets the stage for the infusion of light into the previously darkened lives of the families we serve. For more information, click here or call (801) 406-7475.