Anxiety in adolescence: characteristics and keys to solving it

Adolescence is a complex stage for many reasons. It is an era of transition from childhood to adulthood in which there is a need to adapt to new responsibilities, new ways of relating to others, and the need to develop for the first time. a concept of self and a sense of identity. Coherent, linked to the role he plays in front of society and with which we feel good. And to all this we must add a process of physical transformation and change in hormonal functioning.

Of course, managing all these changes is not easy and takes effort. But make no mistake, adolescence should not be a vital phase of strong psychological ups and downs or emotional or identity crises; there is nothing painful in itself. Taking this into account, Parents and educators should know that seeing adolescents with high levels of anxiety is not and should not be normal., And that in the detection of these cases, it is necessary to help them and to take measures as soon as possible.

    What forms does anxiety take in adolescence?

    The most common anxiety disorders in younger people are separation anxiety disorder (especially in childhood and early adolescence), social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. Its main characteristics are:

    • Separation anxiety disorder: it appears mainly in the school context, faced with the perception that there is no parental protection.
    • Social phobia: is the anxious reaction to receiving ridicule and contempt from others.
    • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A state of high anxiety that persists over time, without worry or easily identifiable triggering events.
    • Specific phobias: psychopathologies based on specific phobic stimuli: needles, animals, specific places, etc.

    On the other hand, as time passes and the young person experiences the effects of this type of psychological disorder, they increase the chances that he will also start to develop clinical depressionSince anxiety disorders and mood disorders overlap a lot in the general population, including adolescents. These psychopathologies are serious problems which strongly erode the quality of life of young people and which, in some cases, can even lead to a form of symptoms as severe as suicidal ideation.

    However, it should be noted that cases of excessive anxiety are also common, but this does not lead to diagnosable psychopathology.; that is, it is a propensity to experience times when anxiety accumulates a lot and / or encourages young people to adopt counterproductive behavior patterns in an attempt to mitigate this discomfort.

    In such cases, it is important to know that in order not to be a disorder, high anxiety is no longer a problem to be addressed. Whatever it takes to help young people regulate their emotions well and not let stress and anxiety lead them into harmful habits will be a breakthrough in maintaining their mental health.

    Elements that promote the onset of anxiety in young people

    These are some of the factors that can cause anxiety problems in teenagers.

    1. Anxiety to seek acceptance from other young people

    The onset of adolescence coincides with a period during which the youth advisers pass from the status of parents to that of other young people of the same age as oneself, and especially those who are a little older.

    This usually generates a feeling of disorientation in the have to relate to others from new coordinates, adopt various behaviors associated with the concept of “popular” and in some cases it even leads some adolescents to compete with others for the attention of other members of this generation, already obsessed with not losing the fashions and ways of expressing themselves that they give a good image.

    2. Insecurity with its own image and / or identity

    In connection with the triggering anxiety above, we find the ease of adolescents to develop insecurities related to their body and their overall image.

    This happens especially in girls, those who often experience greater social pressure to hide what are generally considered imperfections; that way, they have to work actively to always present their best appearance. In addition, the rapid and to some extent “disorderly” physical changes in adolescent bodies make it easier for many not to be accepted for who they are. Knowing this, it is no surprise that adolescence is a key stage in the onset of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

      3. Organizational problems

      teenagers they are not as easy as adults to prioritize long-term goals over short-term pleasures and satisfactions. This means that in many cases, they do not organize their tasks well and postpone many of them indefinitely, their responsibilities accumulate and they end up feeling that the activities to be carried out are overwhelming them.

      4. Inexperience in conflict management

      Among adolescents, it is common to observe conflict management problems from a constructive attitude and to seek consensus; in many ways, they show a lower predisposition to take an external and global perspective of conflicts of interest, And focus more on their own point of view, in part due to the lack of experience in conflict resolution. This means, for example, that intense discussions and frequent crises can arise in your group of friends.

      5. Dependence on new technologies

      Most teens in Western societies use social media almost daily, if only to see what others are posting.. In fact, it is through this medium that they learn most of the news in their circle of friends or social circle of reference, minute by minute. This means that the mere fact that they are running out of cell phone battery in the street can cause them anxiety, through what is known as FOMO (fear of running out) syndrome.

      Tips to help them overcome this form of discomfort

      Here are several guidelines we can follow as adults to help teens manage their anxiety.

      1. Allow them to work on self-acceptance

      This happens by not constantly drawing attention to their image to highlight the negative, and also by speak openly about the beauty of their features which move away from the predominant canons of beauty and in their clothing choices beyond the fashion codes in force.

      2. Teach relaxation techniques

      There are many such techniques, such as mindfulness or Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation.

      3. Support them in their hobbies and hobbies

      Leisure is a great way to deal with anxiety and detaching yourself from intrusive thoughts that cause worry; Therefore, as parents, we must support them in the activities with which they decide to spend their free time, provided that there is some variety in them and the active participation of friends of their age is included. .

      4. Help them organize themselves

      Allowing them to stick to a more or less fixed work schedule will allow them to enjoy their free time more and to associate satisfaction with the experience of performing their tasks, because they will know they will finish them. successfully and smoothly. The latter, in turn, this will reduce the chances of postponing these activities.

      5. Give them tools to challenge social pressure

      Help them develop critical thinking and question the fashions and ideas behind what is considered like “cool” it will be easier for them not to feel bad if they occasionally fall into the “unpopular” category.. This is effective if at the same time we include the whole group of friends, giving them autonomy to choose their own operating rules and their own values ​​without always depending on what others think.

      Are you looking for professional psychological support?

      If you want to benefit from psychological help for you or your children, get in touch with us.

      Fr Psychomaster You will find both psychotherapy for children, adolescents and adults, as well as other services such as couples therapy or counseling for parents, all offered by a team of psychologists with over 14 years of experience in assistance to people in the field of psychological well-being. We offer face-to-face therapy (in our center in Madrid) as well as online therapy sessions. To see more information about us and how we work, visit this page.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Beesdo, K .; Knappe, S .; Pine, DS (2011). Anxiety and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: developmental issues and implications for DSM-V. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 32 (3): pages 483-524.
      • Bhatia, MS, Goyal, A. (2018). Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: need for early detection. Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, 64 (2): pages 75-76.
      • Garber, J. and Weersing, VR (2011). Comorbidity of anxiety and depression in young people: implications for treatment and prevention. Science and Practice of Clinical Psychology, 17 (4): pages 293-306.
      • Leigh, E. and Clark, DM (2018). Understanding Adolescent Social Anxiety Disorder and Improving Treatment Outcomes: Applying the Cognitive Model of Clark and Wells (1995). Clinical journal of child and family psychology, 21 (3): pages 388-414.
      • Siegel, RS and Dickstein, DP (2012). Anxiety in Adolescents: An Update on Their Diagnosis and Treatment for Primary Care Providers. Adolescent health, medicine and therapy, 3: pages 1 to 16.

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