How to Combat Anxiety Disorder in Teens and Young Adults

One out of every four young persons aged between 13 and 18 years has an anxiety disorder. With this condition being so prevalent, chances are that you know someone who is affected by it. Unfortunately, anxiety in teens and young adults slips unnoticed and remains untreated. The main obstacle that stands in the way of diagnosing anxiety in young people and adults alike is that everyone experiences a form of anxiety.

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Young people often get anxious about sitting for an exam or fitting in with peers, while most adults get anxious before going for an interview or giving a speech. Due to how it manifests itself in different forms, it can be difficult to differentiate whether it’s severe or normal anxiety. In this post, we will look at how to identify signs of anxiety in young people, learn the causes and how to treat it.


What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to worry and fear. It’s a normal reaction that helps us deal with everyday situations. For instance, anxiety makes a learner study hard to avoid failing exams, and it makes an interview candidate practice harder to please the recruiter. However, some feelings of anxiety become deeper, constant, uncontrollable, and have no obvious root cause. Such anxiety could possibly be a mental disorder, and it can seriously interfere with one’s quality of life.


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Types of Anxiety Disorders that Affect Young People

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder – The person constantly feels that something bad is going to happen.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder – Excessive nervousness when anticipating or during social interactions.
  • Phobias – Extreme fear triggered by something such as heights, insects, or flying.
  • Panic Attacks – Feelings of intense terror that cause an increased heart rate, trembling, abnormal breathing, chills, and chest pain.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Occurs when one is unable to recover from a traumatic event. Can happen long after the event. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares and avoidance of related things.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – Involuntary behaviour where one performs certain routines repeatedly.


Signs of Anxiety in Teens and Young Adults

  • Disproportionate worry about things before they happen
  • Excessive concern about safety for family or self
  • Too much worry about school and social interactions
  • Constant restlessness
  • Chronic irritability
  • Concentration problems
  • Easily becoming alarmed
  • Frequent stomachaches, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue complaints
  • A tendency to avoid school
  • Dropping grades
  • Clingy behavior with family members
  • Difficulties sleeping


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What’s Causing the Rise in Youth with Severe Anxiety?

There are different leading causes of teen and young adult anxiety. Some of the most notable ones include:


  • High Expectations – Modern youth feel pressured to succeed in ways that weren’t witnessed in previous generations. A 2016 study on college students found that they feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities more than what students in the early 2000s felt.
  • A More Threatening World – Cases of school shootings, terror attacks, and gun violence near learning institutions has made the world a more dangerous place for the youth. This has led to a spike in anxiety for students who have witnessed, watched or read about the cases.
  • Social Media Pressure – Many young people are forced to try to catch up with the latest trends in social media. Comparing their lives with what others post can put undue pressure on their lives.
  • Some other factors include rare tumors that can disrupt hormones, diabetes and heart conditions, respiratory disorders like asthma, and a family history of anxiety.

So, What can Parents, Guardians and Anyone Else who Interacts with Young People do?

If chronic anxiety if not addressed, it can lead to bigger mental health problems that can interfere with the person’s ability to focus on their studies and build social relationships. It can also lead to depression, drug abuse, and even suicidal thoughts. Some of the things you can do include:


  • Trying to identify the signs of anxiety such as change of behaviour, extreme and unwarranted fear, and low concentration.
  • Acknowledging and talking with the young person about potential stressors.
  • Resist setting too high expectations for young people.
  • Have a constructive talk with your teenager about the benefits and effects of social media.
  • Gently encourage the young person to face the things they’re anxious about.
  • Give your child love and support.


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Getting Help for Teenage Anxiety

If you observe signs of anxiety in your child that won’t go away, and you feel that they are affecting different areas of your child’s life, you should seek professional help. Thankfully, anxiety disorders are highly treatable. You should see a psychiatrist who specializes in treating young people. The doctor will use different treatment approaches to combat the problem. In most cases, the process includes evaluating signs, alleviating symptoms, preventing complications caused by the problem, and finding ways to reduce the effects the disorder causes on the teen’s school and social progress. Some intervention methods include:


  • Cognitive-Behavioural therapy: Used to change how the teen thinks about his worries and stressors through controlled exposure to triggers, relaxation techniques, and positive self-talk.
  •  Medication: If symptoms are extreme, medication may be used alongside therapy.  Antidepressant medications and anxiety-reducing drugs may be used under the supervision of a doctor.
  • Just like other mental health disorders, physical activity, quality sleep, meditation, and rest can help alleviate the symptoms.

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Anxiety can affect the productivity, happiness, and social life of your kid. Fortunately, working with a therapist can help the teen or young adult overcome the disorder and reclaim their life. At EZCare Medical Clinic, we have a team of qualified and caring mental professionals who have extensive experience working with young people.

To talk to one of our experts, book an appointment with us today!

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