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.
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
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
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 26, 2020 health anxiety, hypochondriac, online counseling, pandemic, treatment for anxiety0 comments
Health Anxiety During a Pandemic
Health anxiety is a term which identifies the cluster of behaviors around the physical body and its processes and specifically a preoccupation with preventing or experiencing disease or illness. Some of its symptoms are symptom checking, frequent trips to the doctors office, seeking reassurance that you are not dying or gravely ill. In the matter of weeks, health anxiety, fear and stress have infected the masses. These are certainly frightening times for most and for very good reason, we are faced with a highly contagious and potently lethal virus for which no vaccine or treatment currently exists. Yet, as with all things, the way that we encounter our fear and the way that we manage the new realities that we face has a measurable impact on our well-being and adjustment. It is worth mentioning that there are multiple forms of anxiety which are being inflamed, from health anxiety, to economic anxiety, there is much to fear and while most of us can relate to the fear of being infected with the corona virus, for anyone who has been diagnosed as a hypochondriac, their health anxiety symptoms are likely more inflamed. In general, people are quite emotional right now, the best that we can do is focus on what exactly we can control, by focusing on the sources of our own ability to impact change we find our grace, poise, patience and empowerment. Here are the best tips our wellness experts could compile to manage health and wellness during this pandemic.
Social distancing works, do it. It truly is one of the best ways that we can stop the spread and damaging effects of this virus. When your government starts to enact measures for people to stay away from public places, do it! There are a lot of tempting and exciting events and opportunities which have been temporarily suspended and even cancelled. Accept this with grace, for such drastic measurements to be taken, it is because the dangers are extremely potent. Try to find the silver lining in social distancing, use the time to take up a project, relax, and spend time with loved ones.
Use the extra time that you may have to focus on caring for your body, nourishing yourself with a healthy diet and lots of water, and getting in exercises are some of the best ways we can strengthen our minds, bodies, and immune systems.
Remember, that every cough or sneeze in yourself and others isn’t necessarily related to the pandemic. Of course if you do have the symptoms as indicated by the CDC you should follow their guidelines for gaining treatment and a diagnosis.
Keep your thoughts healthy, be cautious of what you consume with your thoughts. Don’t invest too much time in social media or the news. Generally, these places can created more tension and stress which we should all be focusing on limiting right now.
Try not to catastrophize and instead think measured thoughts. It is easy to go into the deep state of fear and hysterics, notice when you are feeling a high degree of anxiety and work through it with deep breathing and stress reduction techniques. Keep in mind, not every sneeze is Coronavirus and recovery for our bodies and civilization is much more than likely so do your best to remind yourself and others of this reality.
Be mindful to take in non-corona information regularly. Social media, the news media. You do have the ability to choose what you take in, do a meditation with positive affirmations, read a book, or even Netflix when you are noticing that you have seen enough of the C-word for one day. You brain and body will thank you for switching it up.
And, as we all know, wash those hands! That is the medical advice that has every good citizen marching off to the toilet paper isle at their local Costco only to find that everyone else seems to have beat them to it. Hand washing with soap and warm water for 20 seconds at a time is proven to remove viruses from our skins and reduce the spread.
This folks is what we have that we can do while we wait for the most vicious winds of this storm to pass, until there is a proven vaccine, we can focus here, and now, on ourselves, on our breathing, and on caring for ourselves and those around us…
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