It’s normal for teenagers — and adults, for that matter — to feel anxious from time to time. If your teen suffers from anxiety on a regular basis, though, it’s important to take the matter seriously. After all, anxiety can leave your child feeling miserable and can even have health-related impacts.
Of course, you can’t seek help for your teen if you don’t know that there is a problem, and teenagers don’t always communicate their feelings to their parents when they’re dealing with mental health issues. Many of the signs of teen anxiety are somewhat hidden, which makes matters that much more difficult. You can help by watching out for these common signs of teen anxiety so that you can guide your son or daughter toward getting the help that he or she needs.
Teen Anxiety and Poor Performance in School
Scoring poorly on a test from time to time or struggling with a tough class is not uncommon. This is particularly true for teens who might be taking harder classes than they did in the past or who might have a newly bustling social life, a part-time job or a spot on a sports team. However, if your teen is showing a pattern of performing poorly in school, it’s important to take notice.
You may notice that your teen’s grades have plummeted or that he or she suddenly seems disinterested in school. Missed assignments might be a frequent problem, or your child might complain about being overwhelmed by the workload.
Of course, there are a number of things that could cause poor school performance. Anxiety is one common cause. Alternatively, your teen might just need extra help with his or her schoolwork. Regardless of the reason that your adolescent isn’t doing well in school, getting to the root of the problem is important, and a professional can help you do just that.
Children often go through a tough time in middle and high school when it comes to social matters. With many tweens and teens struggling to fit in and develop their social skills, issues can pop up from time to time. Because of this, many parents don’t even notice that social changes are often a sign of teen anxiety.
Feeling awkward from time to time or struggling to make friends are common problems among teenagers. Those who go through major social changes often suffer from teen anxiety, though. If your teen has always enjoyed spending time with friends but suddenly wants to spend more time alone instead, you should take notice. Your teen could be suffering from social anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder.
Unexplained Health Issues
If your child is dealing with various health issues that don’t make sense or can’t be explained, you might be feeling incredibly frustrated. As a parent, it’s in your nature to want to help your child feel better. If you can’t understand why your teen isn’t feeling well in the first place, this can be impossible to do.
Headaches are very common among teenagers who suffer from anxiety. They can even manifest as migraines, and they may be very frequent. Gastrointestinal issues, general aches and pains in the body, unexplained and frequent fatigue and more can all be physical signs of anxiety.
Additionally, you should watch out for the physical signs of a panic attack. Be aware that panic attacks aren’t always severe; many sufferers of anxiety actually experience milder panic attack symptoms from time to time. Rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, sweating, trembling and chest pain are some of the symptoms of a panic attack.
Of course, you will first want to schedule an appointment for your child to see a doctor so that you can mention these concerns. After all, there could be medical causes for these issues, and you’ll want to help your teen seek treatment. If a doctor can’t seem to find a medical cause for these physical symptoms, though, a visit with a mental health professional who has experience in treating teens might be in order.
Also, if your teen suffers from panic attacks, learn how to help. Encourage your teen to sit or lie down quietly and to take deep breaths by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. If symptoms get too serious, seek emergency treatment.
When you think about the emotional symptoms of anxiety, you might think about someone who acts incredibly worried all the time. Although some teens do show this symptom, many other teens have anxiety-related emotional issues that aren’t quite as obvious.
An otherwise cheerful teen might regularly show signs of irritability, for example, or he or she might have unexplained outbursts. Restlessness, difficulty concentrating and feeling “on edge” or “worked up” are also common signs of anxiety.
Occasionally being in a bad mood or feeling restless from time to time is not a cause for concern. If these behaviors are frequent, though, they may be worth looking into, particularly if they are out of character for your child.
If you feel like you’re constantly battling with your teen about going to bed or if your child doesn’t want to wake up in the morning, you might think that you are dealing with a case of teenage rebellion. Teens argue with their parents about things like bedtimes or waking up for school all the time, which is one reason why anxiety-related sleep issues often aren’t detected or taken seriously. In addition, a teen’s circadian rhythm changes and makes it more likely that they will stay up late and sleep in.
However, there is a chance that your teen can’t help what he or she is going through in regards to sleep. Anxiety can cause insomnia in teens and adults, making it difficult for them to fall asleep and sleep comfortably throughout the night. And, in turn, insomnia can cause or exacerbate anxiety. This can become a troubling cycle, so it is best to address a lack of sleep as soon as possible.
Naturally, not all teen sleep-related issues are related to anxiety. A teenager’s brain structure is rapidly changing, which can impact sleep. Some teens are distracted by their tech devices, their homework or their extracurricular activities. There are some red flags that you can watch out for, though, such as if your teen tries to fall asleep but can’t, if he or she is still tired after getting enough sleep or if he or she suffers from nightmares.
As a parent, you want to be aware of any mental health issues that your teen might be suffering from. Sometimes, it can be difficult to notice the signs of anxiety, particularly when your teen is going through lots of other changes. Keeping an eye out for the five hidden signs above, though, can help you determine if your son or daughter might need help.