How Teens & Parents Can Handle Adolescent Anxiety

Written by Janice Miller | janice@safetytoday.org

Editors note: This post comes to us from Janice Miller, a member of the SafetyToday team. Safety Today is a community of parents and professionals that have come together to help promote safety in the home and in the community. Janice is a veterinarian and founder of the Franklin Animal Rescue Society, which helps place shelter dogs in foster care until they can find their forever homes. Outrun the Stigma encourages healthy dialogue on mental health and mental illness from all our community members. We encourage parents and youth to talk about how they can improve their mental health through making healthy changes, but acknowledge the systemic barriers that may prevent them from making changes, such as systemic poverty, lack of health care access, and more. To learn more about the social determinants of health visit CMHA Ontario's website. 

Our team wants to send a thank you to Janice for her insights and sharing her ideas and resources!


Everyone knows the teenage years can be difficult. Between the massive changes going to the body and the stresses of school, it’s typical for teens to struggle with mental health issues. Although some consider it a rite of passage, there’s a difference between enduring change and letting anxiety lead to depression.

There are ways for teens to help themselves — and for parents to help the kids they love — navigate through adolescent anxiety. Before learning some tips, it helps to understand this problem is getting worse.

Adolescent Anxiety Is Increasing

It’s not like teen angst is something new. As the body and mind mature, it’s reasonable to expect a few problems now and then. But as Psychology Today points out, anxiety is getting worse for teenagers. Some of the reasons include a higher pressure to achieve academically, social media bullying, increased stress to stay physically active, and fears enhanced by the media.

 Image source from  Pixabay

Image source from Pixabay

And as Time reports, adolescent anxiety isn’t something to ignore. It’s not just a real problem; it’s one that can cause significant problems in teens. Stressing over school, budding relationships, and social status is very painful for adolescents. In other words, the depression and anxiety teens face is real to them, so it should be real to all adults.

In fact, this anxiety can lead to a downward spiral. Teens struggling with mental health issues can have lower academic success, trouble sleeping, and substance abuse. All three just make anxiety worse.

Healthy Ways To Handle Stress

With a rise in adolescent anxiety, what can a parent do to help? AACAP.org recommends that adults keep an eye on teens to spot any problems early. Look for signs of depression and anxiety such as mood swings, extended sadness, and the like. If you find any of these, don’t talk down to anyone! Instead, listen carefully and validate their pain.

Teens can help themselves and friends as well. Believe it or not, keeping your body healthy does wonders for your mental health. That means getting exercise, avoiding unhealthy foods, and enjoying a full night of sleep regularly. You also need to take regular breaks from studying and work, keep friends around that support you and rehearse what to say during stressful situations.

One tip that may surprise you is to talk through your anxiety and depression. Find people you trust of any age and explain how you feel. Don’t get angry and start accusing people of causing you harm, but you should calmly explain why certain actions or words hurt you. Even if you don’t find a solution, talking about it helps you move past the anxiety.

A Healthy Neighborhood Helps

While taking care of yourself is absolutely required, there are some things you cannot change. For example, you might live in a bad neighborhood or at least one that includes several sources of anxiety. That means picking the right house means a lot.

While teens cannot do much for this, parents should consider when it’s time to move. Start by listening to your children and hear their concerns. Then drive around the area (both yours and a possible one to move into) to see how things compare. You can also speak to people who work or live in the area and ask their opinion.

Adolescent Anxiety Is Serious

Teens should never feel like their anxiety is unimportant or shallow. This is a serious problem that’s getting worse. Adults should look out for signs of anxiety in their children and consider if finding a better neighborhood is necessary. And teens should keep up their physical health and talk to others how they feel. This way, everyone can work together to fight adolescent anxiety. 


Do you need support?
 
If you in immediate danger of hurting yourself or someone else phone 911. For other support please call:
 
Calgary: Distress Centre Calgary - (403) 266 HELP (4357)
Edmonton: The Support Network Distress Line - (780) 482 - HELP (4357) 
Are you somewhere else in Canada? Find a crisis line near you. 
International? Find a crisis line near you.
To chat with someone live online go to 7cups.com