Helping Your Teen Navigate Anxiety and Depression

by | Nov 3, 2022 | Depression and Anxiety, Family, Teens, and Children | 0 comments

Anxiety and depression among teens is at an all time high. If you have a teen you likely know this firsthand. While the pandemic played no small part, the fast pace and demand of modern life has an immense affect on mental health for most (if not all) teens. Astoundingly, nearly one-third of teens currently fit criteria for an anxiety disorder diagnosis (our hearts break at reading this statistic). Fortunately, there are solutions available and we’re here to help in Arvada and Littleton!

First off, we want you to remember that your value as a parent cannot be overstated. It’s more important than you realize-no matter how hopeless or helpless you may feel. A great first step is simply reminding yourself that from your teen’s perspective you hold the most important role in their life (even if they tell you they hate you).

Understanding what’s going on with your teen is the next step to help them feel better. While some teens may seem moody or withdrawn, others may exhibit signs of panic or anxiety. And while some teens may seem sad or down, others may be dealing with more serious depression. When talking about a clinical diagnosis, anxiety is broken down into a few sub-types. Having a general idea of the type of anxiety your teen might be experiencing can help give a direction.

Some of the most common types of anxiety and depression in teens:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Teens with generalized anxiety disorder tend to worry excessively about a variety of things, including school, family, friends, and future plans. They may have difficulty concentrating or sleeping, and may feel tense or on edge much of the time.

Panic Disorder: Teens with panic disorder experience sudden and intense episodes of fear or anxiety, which can include a pounding heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, and more. These episodes can occur for no reason or for a specific trigger, such as being in an elevator or driving on the highway.

Social Anxiety Disorder: Teens with social anxiety disorder may be very shy and awkward around other people. They may feel extremely uncomfortable when they are the center of attention or being watched, and avoid doing things that might draw attention to themselves. They may also have a hard time making friends and keeping them.

How to know if your teen is struggling with anxiety or depression

It can be difficult to tell the difference between anxiety and depression in teens. However, there are some key differences between the two disorders. It’s important to note that they might be happening at the same time.

Anxiety can be characterized by excessive worry, racing thoughts, and physical symptoms such as sweating and a racing heart. Depression, on the other hand, is characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, and difficulty concentrating.

If you’re concerned that your teen may be struggling with anxiety or depression, it’s important to talk to them about your concerns and have an open dialogue. Look for changes in their mood or behavior that are out of the ordinary. And if you’re worried about their safety, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Symptoms of anxiety in teens

Knowing what is normal teenage behavior and what may be anxiety or depression is important. Here are some signs that your teen may be struggling with something more serious:

  1. They seem withdrawn or disconnected from friends and activities they used to enjoy.
  2. You notice a change in their eating or sleeping habits.
  3. They seem more irritable or easily agitated than usual.
  4. They seem excessively worried or stressed about school, work, or other activities.
  5. They have difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks.
  6. They avoid situations that make them anxious or depressed.
  7. They use alcohol or drugs to cope with their feelings of anxiety or depression.

Connection is the antidote to anxiety

Teens are under a lot of pressure. They have to succeed in school, make friends, and fit in. Sports, jobs, extracurriculars and social media (to name a few) all combine to increase the load they carry. It’s no wonder that anxiety and depression are common among adolescents but there is hope! Teens can find happiness by making connections with others.

Connection is key to feeling whole and happy for everyone, but it’s especially important for teens. Often times, teens will try to hide their emotions, even from their families. When they feel connected to others, they feel supported and loved. This sense of connection can help them overcome adversity and cope with stress.

There are many ways for teens to feel the connection they need. Spending time with family and friends, joining clubs or sports teams, or volunteering in their community are all great avenues for building healthy relationships. Whatever activity they choose, the important thing is that they feel like they belong. When teens have a strong sense of connection, they are more likely to thrive emotionally and physically.

There are many ways that you can help your teen tap into the healing power of connection. Here are a few tips:

  1. Be there for them. Let them know that you are available to talk and listen.
  2. Talk to them about what they’re going through. Let them know that it’s okay to feel anxious or depressed, and that you’re there for them. It’s important to let your teenager know that you’re there for them and that you understand what they’re going through. This can be a difficult conversation, but it’s an important one.
  3. Help them find healthy coping mechanisms. There are many healthy ways to deal with anxiety and depression, such as exercise, journaling, and spending time in nature. Help your teenager find activities that make them feel good and stick with them. Support them in these activities.
  4. Encourage them to seek help. If your teenager is feeling anxious or depressed, encourage them to seek professional help right away. Depression and anxiety can be serious issues, and it s important that they get the treatment they need as soon as possible. Knowing that you support them in seeking therapy can go a long way.
  5. Let them know you’re there for them no matter what. You may feel uncomfortable talking to your teenager about anxiety and depression, but it’s an important conversation to have. If you’re feeling nervous, remember that you don’t need to know all the answers. A good rule of thumb when it comes to mental health is listen more than you speak.
  6. Don’t dismiss their feelings. Your teenager may feel embarrassed, frustrated or even angry when they’re feeling depressed or anxious. Don’t dismiss these feelings, and don’t tell them that all teenagers feel that way. Depression and anxiety are real issues and they shouldn’t be dismissed as “normal teenage behavior.”

When should you seek help?

There simply is no right or wrong time to seek out professional help. We encourage you to contact us in today if you’re concerned that your teen is struggling. We’re happy to provide a free consultation to answer questions and get you started on a helpful path.

Teen age years are rough, to say the least. All teens will experience at least some anxiety and depression. Staying involved and aware as teens go through adolescence gives a sense of reassurance as they go through many changes both physically and emotionally. It’s important to be a part of their lives, even as they become more independent. Knowing the signs and letting your teen know that your here to help and offer support can help your teen get through the struggles of anxiety and depression. With the right support, your teen can truly lead a happy and healthy life.

If you think your teen may be suffering from anxiety or depression, don’t hesitate to reach out for help! We’re here for you, your teens and your family with counseling offices in Arvada, Littleton and online.


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