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  • Marianne Breadner

Anxiety in Teens

Anxious teen biting fingernails

More teens have a diagnosed anxiety disorder than any other mental health concern. A large percentage of these cases are often social anxiety which can interfere with attending school, having successful relationships, and even shopping or eating out. Youth with anxiety tend to over estimate the danger or risk of an event and, at the same time, tend to under estimate their own resources and supports. Many of these teens grew up as “worriers” in their earlier years but as the adolescent brain develops their anxiety often peaks and depression may also appear.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has been proven to be effective in dealing with anxiety and there are Apps, such as icouchCBT that youth can utilize on their cell phone to help prompt them to use CBT strategies. Scaling, exposure work, and gathering data are also CBT skills that work to help youth “take charge” of their anxiety. Mindfulness can also be a calming technique for helping to de-escalate anxiety. The goal is to decrease anxiety so it is at a manageable level and not interfering with normal routines. Counselling around these techniques can be helpful in many cases but medication is warranted in some severe cases.

Anxiety helps to keep youth safe so it does serve a purpose, but it becomes an issue when it causes anxiety attacks or becomes too overwhelming. Anxiety is normal in situations such as going for a job interview, taking your driving test, or speaking in front of a group. Practicing calming strategies in these situations can help youth learn how to manage anxiety instead of just reacting to it.

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