Today, there are many different factors as to why teens are more likely to develop anxiety than there were 30 years ago. The development of technology, more emphasis on academic success, and societal pressures — to name a few. As adults, we may not be able to understand the reasons behind a teenagers’ anxiety. Below is a list of 4 common causes of teenage anxiety, and how to support these kids through the challenges of adolescence.
1. High Expectations
In the academic world today, there is a lot more pressure to do well in school and move on to higher education. Colleges are competitive, and it can be an added challenge to try and find a job right out of high school with no experience. More teenagers today have part-time jobs and are engaged in extracurricular activities at school, all while trying to maintain good grades and a social life. These expectations can leave teens feeling stressed with little to no time to decompress and take time to relax.
2. Hormones and Brain Development
The life stage of adolescence is a monumental time for growth and development. Hormones are flowing, bodies are changing, and this can cause a lot of emotional reactions. Teenagers may feel a variety of emotions such as anger, depression, and anxiety — for seemingly no reason.
The range of emotions felt is likely due to the hormonal fluctuations. During this time period, their brain is also still developing. They are learning what it means to be an “adult” and take on more responsibility, while also trying to balance and understand the meaning of emotions. This can cause a lot of stress on an adolescent, and in turn, cause anxiety symptoms.
3. Peer Pressure
Friendships, social identities, and trying to “fit in” puts a lot of pressure on teenagers. Peer pressure can be positive or negative, both equally as stressful. Teenagers want to find their place and form connections with others. This may cause them to conform and act a certain type of way, perhaps contradicting the way in which the child normally acts.
Another form of anxiety can come from dreading social interactions with others. Whether it’s caused by bullying, or just feeling like they don’t belong, social anxiety is extremely common during the adolescent period. Some kids may just be more shy than others. It does not mean they are necessarily anxious, they just need more comfortability while socializing. The pressure of feeling like they need to make friends, however, may also cause some anxiety.
4. Parental and Caregiver Relationships
Teenagers are at that stage of life where they are torn between wanting their parents or caregivers approval, as well as wanting to rebel against them. This can cause strain on both sides of the relationship. Parents and caregivers will discipline and correct behavior often during this stage, which comes across as disapproval to teens. Feeling like they have disappointed their caregivers, teenagers may feel some stress and anxiety. They are just figuring out their place in society, and eventually will grow out of feeling rebellious.
How to Manage Teenage Anxiety
It’s important for caregivers to validate and listen to their teen when they’re experiencing anxiety. Ask questions, be supportive, and help the child problem-solve. Encourage communication, a healthy diet and exercise, engaging with social supports, and pleasurable activities. Reassure them that they are not alone and help them find coping skills or relaxation techniques to help with anxiety.
One of the best ways to manage teenage anxiety is to get them in touch with a mental health professional. Counseling provides a safe space for teens to understand and overcome their anxiety. Caregivers may be present during these sessions as well to be included in the healing process. Schedule a consultation today, and find ways to calm the relentless anxieties.