Teenagers often have worries and intrusive thoughts that can lead to ongoing anxiety. One of the most common types is Generalized Anxiety. The DSM-V explains Generalized Anxiety Disorder as, “excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities such as work or school performance.” Anxiety can have physical and emotional effects that can feel like an endless burden. As adult mentors, educators, and caregivers, here are tips for how to help a teenager with anxiety.
How to Help a Teenager With Anxiety
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 31, 2022 anger, anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, help for anxiety, mental health, social anxiety, teen anxiety, therapy for anxiety, treatment for anxiety, treatment for anxiety disorder0 comments
Sept 26: Intro to Group: Ice Breaker Activity, Review Rules and expectations
The anxious brain is conflicted as the mind can race, but inversely “blank out.” The frustration of not having a clear mind can lead to poor performance in school. Teens can start to lose concentration after school during homework or at work. Validate some of their worried thoughts by using logical thinking such as separating facts from fiction. Encourage creative outlets after mentally draining tasks. Teens can use journaling and stream of consciousness type writing to free these intrusive thoughts. Make sure there is a safe place for creativity as expression can be personal. Respect the privacy of your teen, but encourage them to share if comfortable.
Anger & Tension
Anger and irritability can unfortunately arrive during anxiety as a result of frustration. As we feel tense with worry, our bodies follow suit. Find what works best for your teen in the realm of movement. Sports are an obvious go-to, but yoga, tai chi and even light stretching can help. Giving your teen a time and space to calm down when angry will benefit you both. Talking about the anger when clear headed will improve your connection.
Sleep & Rest
Since one purpose of anxiety is to keep the brain and body on alert, there is a restless component that comes with anxiety. Frequently one can feel hypervigilant, especially when racing thoughts are added.
As a result, teens with anxiety may feel more tired and lethargic. Sleep becomes more crucial as anxiousness is prone to poor sleep patterns. Teenagers also need more sleep than their adult counterparts. Make early mornings less stressful by sticking to a more relaxing “down time” routine before bed. Find what type of nightly routine and sleep schedule works best. Remember that rest isn’t always sleep; meditation and taking breaks when acceptable can refresh the mind. A “mental health day” off school or work when appropriate can rejuvenate the soul.
One of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a sense of safety. The recent pandemic drastically affected schooling and activities. As a result, teens have had to learn to adapt to change and deal with disappointment. Teens especially crave the consistency of routine. Knowing what to anticipate in advance can help calm the anxious brain. Try to be realistic with expectations and set rules together. If you are uncertain of plans, be honest with your teen and come up with alternatives so that they know what to expect.
Using the 5 senses can be grounding to calm the nerves. For example, making a favorite meal together is comforting and incorporates all senses. Carrying a rollerball scent to smell, a fidget spinner to touch or sour candy to taste can be quick remedies when anxiety starts. Small changes of surroundings can also be refreshing, such as letting your teen rearrange and redecorate their room. There has been a resurgence in sensory items among teenagers. Being playful and letting teens enjoy video games and toys from their younger years also creates a sense of comfort.
There are many disorders that accompany anxious feelings such as Major Depressive Disorder, ADHD, and OCD. Anxiety can also be a result of traumatic events or major life changes.
Social anxiety (social phobia) is common among teens. Based on data from The National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), an estimated 9.1% of adolescents have social anxiety disorder, with an estimated 1.3% causing severe impairment.
Therapy for teens with a licensed professional counselor gives space to divulge these complicated thoughts and emotions. Group Therapy for Teenagers is a unique opportunity to gain skills and new behaviors with the benefit of an expert-led experience while being accelerated through the lens of social learning that can only come from peer support. Group formats have been used to successfully manage a variety of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Remember to practice your own self care when anxious as we are a great influence in their lives. When children see us coping better, they experience positive results firsthand. Normalizing honest conversations about emotions will show teens how to develop into healthy adults.
Group Therapy for Teenagers: Teen Art Group
This in-person Group Therapy for Teenagers runs from September 26-November 14 at 6PM on Mondays. It takes place at our Monroeville location. The group will be led by Licensed Professional Counselor Rachel Taylor, author of this article.
Teen Group Therapy: Teen Art Group will help teens learn Social Skills, Depression Coping Skills, Anxiety Strategies, and How to Handle Anger all within the context of making art.
Sept 26: Intro to Group: Ice Breaker Activity, Review Rules and expectations
Oct 3: Social Skills: Healthy relationships and make bracelets for friends
Oct 10: Depression Coping Skills: Jeopardy game
Oct 17: Anxiety Strategies/Discuss Group Topic choice
Oct 24: *Group topic Choice and craft*
Oct 31: Halloween!-Mask Craft and discuss different “sides” of self
Nov 7: Anger: role plays
Nov 14: Closure *Apples to Apples type game to review Group Skills *discuss future groups
Written by Rachel Taylor, LPC. Rachel is accepting patients at our Monroeville location as well as online. She is leading Group Therapy for Teenagers: Teen Art Group.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.)
Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality ([1st ed.].). New York: Harper.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2021). Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder
Which Meditation Style is Right for You?
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghOctober 20, 2021 help for anxiety, how to meditate, kinds of meditation, meditation, mindfulness, relaxation, stress management, wellness0 comments
There are a plethora of meditation styles available which can support your overall wellness goals. With such an array of meditation styles, you may wonder which form would be most helpful for you to reduce stress or induce your next nirvana. Since each meditation style require different skills and mindsets, read on to see which one might be right for you.
- Walking Meditation. Walking meditation allows the act of taking a foot step to become the very act of meditation itself. This form of meditation is especially helpful for someone who wants the benefits of practicing focused awareness without being seated and cross legged for too long. Walking meditation can also allow the practitioner to focus with curiosity on their surroundings and ask open ended questions as they meander upon the grass or carpet around them.
- Zen Meditation. Zen is likely the form of meditation you most commonly think of when imagining traditional meditation, here the practitioner sits with their eyes closed and allows any thoughts that come to them to simply drift away. The goal is the focus on the sound and sensation of the breath floating in and out of the nostrils.
- Mantra Meditation. For mantra meditation you might be seated or standing, posture is less important that the act of practicing focused awareness on a sequence of words or phrases. This is most traditionally done in Sanskrit but in new age and mindfulness traditions there are many English adaptations of empowering phrases. The words and integrating them into consciousness or offering them to a beloved deity is the goal of this form of meditation.
- Chakra Meditation. A chakra is a Meridien or an energy line/lines that run in the body. Chakras intersect with the meridiens and fuel them. There are 7 chakras which run along the spine and through the head. By doing a meditation that visualizes each of them, any points of energy blocks can be opened and healed. Chakra meditation often involves a visualization.
- Guided Imagery. Guided imagery is done by listening to a speaker or recording take the participant through a story like script that can inspire or address some underlying mental health needs usually with a positive psychology angle. Sometimes guided imagery also incorporates a focus on breathing.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing Meditation. Diaphragmatic breathing meditation focuses on breathing deeply into the belly to activate the calming abilities of the body. By using this slow abdominal breathing style, the parasympathetic nervous system can be activated and you can reduce the symptoms of stress and hyperarousal. This is something you can do anytime and anywhere to instantly stimulate your vagus nerve and lower stress responses associated with “fight-or-flight” mechanisms.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This is an active meditation with a somatic focus that is helpful in dispersing high levels of physical tension. In this style of mediation you will focus on squeezing and releasing different areas of the body and then relaxing them. The more that we tighten our muscles the more that we are able to relax upon release.
- Loving Kindness Meditation. Loving kindness is a heart meditation which helps the meditator to offer forgiveness and love to any person in their life or to themselves. You might visualize love or tenderness coming from your heart or mouth and sending it out into others in the world.
Insight Timer is a great free app that offers many different options. Pick a meditation style, try it out and see how it feels. If it’s not working for you, simply try another one.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 3, 2018 agoraphobia, anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, counseling for anxiety, counseling pittsburgh, help for anxiety, panic attack, therapist, therapists, therapy, Therapy and Counseling For Anxiety0 comments
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder that can sometimes co-occur with panic disorder. Its prevalence rate in the population is low, occurring in only about 1.1% of the population. Agoraphobia is hallmarked by a fear of leaving the house or other safe place. This often cooccurs with panic attack or panic disorder because a person has experienced a panic attack and then fears that they may have one again or that they will experience some other feared situation such as traveling on a bridge, going through a tunnel, or being stuck in a crowd of people. In some situations, the person may be able to encounter the feared situation, but they do so with such dread that the activity and many other parts of life lose their joy and peacefulness, which can even lead to depression and other psychiatric disorders. In some instances agoraphobia can be diagnosed without a history of panic disorder.
The criteria for Agoraphobia are as follows:
- A fear or anxiety about being in places or situations where escape may be challenging. This fear is often surrounding being unable to quickly escape if the sufferer has a panic attack and could become trapped or unable to leave.
- The fear of being unable to leave leads to an avoidance of said situations which can result in restriction of travel or in some instances the situations are endured but only with a certain safe person or friend.
- This specific phobic avoidance is not accounted for by another disorder such as social anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder.
A person who has experienced a panic disorder may state “ Before I sought treatment and recovered from agoraphobia, I rarely left my apartment for 2 years. It all started when I was walking down a crowded street in downtown Pittsburgh and suddenly I had hot flashes, I was sweating and couldn’t breathe, the pain in my chest became so bad that I ran for help and reached for the lady next to me and told her to ‘Help, call 911!’ When I was diagnosed as having a panic attack the hospital I couldn’t believe it, everything changed for me then. I wanted to avoid having another episode and the only place I felt better was at home. I avoided everyone and even did my grocery shopping online. It became so bad that I started to feel anxious when I thought about leaving home for anything.”
A person with agoraphobia suffers greatly, their ability to function in life is limited including socially, emotionally, and psychologically. Treating panic disorders can be extremely difficult because the person may not want to leave their home even to seek help, fortunately treatment using distance or online counseling is now an option. The best treatment for Agoraphobia is psychotherapy, a counseling or therapy approach which uses exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Medication or Pharmacological therapy including anxiolytic medications and SSRI’s are often used effectively to treat Agoraphobia too, medication is often used in conjunction with counseling or psychotherapy.Learn More
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Therapy and Counseling
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 1, 2018 anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, counseling for anxiety, counseling pittsburgh, help for anxiety, licensed therapist monroeville, licensed therapist pittsburgh, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, searching for a therapist in monroeville, searching for a therapist pittsburgh, therapy, Therapy and Counseling For Anxiety0 comments
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a form of anxiety disorder which stems from exposure to a traumatic event or situation which caused real or threatened injury to and this can also be caused by the witnessing of an event or situation which injured or threatened injury to another person. According to the DSM IV, there is a lifetime prevalence rate of about 8% for the development of PTSD. Muggings, rape, terror, hostage attacks, natural disasters, car accidents, are situations that can increase the likelihood that a person may develop PTSD.
As a therapy practice which also specializes in marriage and family counseling, we support the research which suggests that individuals who have experienced an infidelity in their relationship may also go on to develop symptoms of PTSD or Acute Stress Disorder.
There are certain occupations which put people at risk for developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by exposing them to frightening and dangerous situations. Those who work as military/armed forces, policeman, fireman, and detectives may be particularly vulnerable for developing PTSD. Finally, there is a second form of PTSD, Vicarious or Secondary trauma, this form of trauma is caused by exposure to information related to traumatic events and is commonly seen in therapists, social workers, attorneys, judges and persons who offer support and services to those who have had trauma.
The Diagnostic Criteria for PTSD are;
- The person has witnessed, was confronted with or in some way threatened with death or serious injury to the self or others.
- The response to this event or threat was intense fear, horror, anxiety, and or helplessness.
- The events is then continually and persistently re-experienced in the form of imagery, thoughts, perceptions, the person may also experience frightening and recurrent dreams related to the traumatic event. The person will then attempt to avoid any associated triggers of the event and have an over all numbing and or a hyper-vigilance meaning they become hyper-aroused when exposed to triggers for the trauma. They also may have difficulty falling asleep, concentrating, regulating mood, and have an increased startle response. Individuals exposed to trauma may too are also at increased risk to develop mood disorders such as depression and are also at increased risk for developing substance abuse.
Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder often involves Trauma Focused therapy with a licensed professional counselor or therapist as well as medication therapy in certain instances. Another form of therapy which has proven effective in clinical models is EMDR.