Anxiety in Adolescents
Anxiety can be one of the most unpleasant emotions that people feel. The word “anxiety” describes periods of fear, worry, nervousness, and restlessness. Anxiety comes with thoughts of danger and helplessness. Life experiences, especially those that occurred in childhood and adolescence, often determine our perception and expectations of threats and vulnerability. We react with physical symptoms to prepare us for the perceived “danger”; this is often called the fight or flight response. These symptoms can include but are not limited to rapid heartbeat, sweating, light-headedness, difficulty breathing, fatigue, nausea or abdominal distress. Anxiety moves among family members initiating a vicious cycle of worry from one family member to the next. For example children can take on their parents’ anxiety. As parents notice the symptoms of anxiety in their children their own anxiety increases which in turn elevates the child’s anxiety and back again.
Parenting a teenager can be very difficult. Inherently with the developmental stage of adolescence, teenagers face many changes, uncertainties, and pressures. Physical changes in puberty perpetuate teens’ focus on body image and looks. Social acceptance and peer relationships become a priority. School responsibilities are increased and many teenagers get jobs for the first time and/or are heading for college… an area that is unknown for them. Teens experience conflicts regarding independence as they transition from childhood to adulthood. Sometimes anxiety in this developmental stage can become chronic and interfere with the teenager balancing academic performance with extracurricular activities and maintaining social and family relationships. Anxiety disorders vary from teenager to teenager. Symptoms can include excessive fears and worries, feelings of social incompetence, and isolation. Teenagers may also complain of the physical symptoms previously noted.
The Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains, New Jersey, offers individual and family therapy to assist teenagers in reducing anxiety through techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation training, and mindfulness. We follow a family systems approach to therapy and may include family members in our sessions upon consent. Call 908-322-0112 to schedule an appointment. We are available day, evening and weekend hours.