Anxiety Disorders » Anxiety Treatments How To Overcome Teenage Anxiety
Anxiety Treatments How To Overcome Teenage Anxiety
How do adolescents, who cry their hearts out to you one day and lock their doors the next, react to trauma? As you would expect, with mixed behavior. Because your teen is able to fully grasp the reality of the trauma, she may try to cope with the shock like a mature adult, by helping you out and by holding back her own distress. Yet, because she is still highly vulnerable and in need of your support, she may behave like a young child and become clingy, act silly or behave recklessly.
Here are some signs of PTSD in teenagers:
Emotional numbness and dente of shame. guilt. and humiliation
Flight into premature adult behaviorâearly marriage, pregnancy, dropping out of school, seeking older friends
Obsession with traumatic event and disturbing memories and flashbacks
If you suspect childhood sexual abuse, here are some traumatic reactions to look for in teenagers:
Sexually exploitative or aggressive interactions with younger children
Sexual promiscuity, or avoidance of any sexual involvement
Helping Your Child Build a Safe Fortress
Seeing your child in pain is heartbreaking for a parent. Seeing your child traumatized, perhaps irrevocably, is devastating beyond words and pierces your very being.
What can you as a parent do to put your child on the healing path and soothe her emotional wounds? Be there to support, comfort and reassure her in every way possible. Although you cant push the erase button and make the traumatic event disappear, the more she can feel you as a protective presence against physical attack, emotional pain, anothers cruelty is the more secure she will feel. Dont hold back on holding the touch is the best elixir of all sorrow and natures homemade security blanket. Be kind, but firm, the more consistency and structure in a childs life, the less confusion and disorganization. Take her pain and fears seriously and respect them to feel understood and valued is one of lifes greatest gifts.
Try to remain calm in your childs presence. Children are vulnerable to the impact of their trauma on the people they love and look to their parents to discover the meaning of what has happened to them. Be mindful of how your own anxiety and reactions to the trauma might escalate your childs distress.
Get your child to talk about the trauma and her feelings. If shes too young to easily describe the event or her feelings, give her the wordsâYoure having these scary nightmares because it was very frightening for you to see daddy die. Its okay. The bad dreams wont always be there. I think youre afraid when we drive over the bridge because youre worried that you could fall in the water and drown like your friend Susie. But that was an unusual accident and doesnt happen very often to little children.Â MummyÂ and daddy wont let that happen to you. Explain to children that its perfectly normal to have strong uncomfortable feelings like shame, guilt, or a wish for revenge.
Encourage your child to tell you a story, draw, and play out the trauma (provide salient toy propsâfamily dolls or puppets, houses, cars).
Avoid exposing your child to reminders of the trauma, as well as frightening experiences like scary stories, TV programs, and movies. Maintain sleeping and eating routinesâchange of any kind can be unwelcome and disruptive.
Dont make an issue of regressiveÂ behaviourÂ and have patience with difficult or uncharacteristic behavior, while at the same time being firm about household rules.
Listen empathetically to your childs repetitious retelling of the event and expression of her fears, regardless of intensity or pervasiveness, and share her reactions. The more she can express her pain and fear, the safer she will feel with those feelings.
Watch his play andÂ behaviourÂ at home and monitor his progress at school and out of home settings.
Gently explain to your child the cause or nature of their traumas and correct their misunderstandings and distonions. -Baby Jenny didnt die because you said you wished she would. She died because she was born very, very sick and wasnt strong enough to live.
Encourage any activities that are pleasurable and offer emotional release. such as dancing, sports, and games.
Make every effort to provide opportunities in which your child can feel cont:c. and make choices, and feel mastery and self-estem.
The need for professional help following trauma is common, especially if you are traumatized yourself, and should be sought if your childs behavior has not begun to return to normal within a month following the trauma. Here are the signs to indicate that your child needs professional help:
Ongoing depression, reckless or aggressive behavior
Frequent nightmares that dont lessen with time
Obsession with the trauma and vivid terror in response to trauma related triggers
Psychosomatic complaints that signal unexpressed underlying emotional pain
Continued inability to concentrate and attend
Overfocus on self-blame or need for revenge
For more information on how to handle childhood trauma, see Children and Trauma by Cynthia Monahon, Too Scared to Cry by Lenore Terr and The Scared Child by Barbara Brooks and Paula Siegel.
The Least You Need to Know About Anxiety In Teenagers
Following trauma, dont be deceived if your child appears unconcerned. It may just be a delayed reaction.
To assess the impact of trauma on your child, look for signs of distress in the changes that may occur in your childs behavior.
In this article, you will learn about:
Quietly disturbed teens who fall through the cracks
Warning signs of serious teen turmoil
Getting help for your family and your teen
Remember being an adolescent, how self-conscious you felt about your appearance,your words, your actions? Psychologists call this the imaginary phenomenon You imagine yourself the focus of everyones attention. When you a rock concert with 20,000 people, you worried that everyone noticed you: bad hair dayor your mothers, the dork.
For most, this self-consciousness is normal adolescent baggage tha: gets dumped as we mature and realize that the world has better things to worry about than our hair or our zits. But for some teens, this heightened self-consciousness is extreme and accompanied by strong fears and atypical behavior, like not wanting to go out with friends on a Saturday night or skipping school on gym days to avoid undressing in front of others. It represents not normal angst, but a deeper problem, and begs for psychological intervention before it follows them into adulthood.
Here,Â you will learn how to identify when your teen is worried well or worried sick, how you can help him and when you need to get outside help.
Occasional depression during adolescence is common, especially in girls. As many as 28 percent of girls report feeling depressed every day or at least a few times a week.
Sixteen year old Franny appeared to be your typical adolescent. Cute, energetic and bright, she seemed to enjoy school, got average grades, belonged to a clique, had a best friend, occasionally dated and was a cheerleader. But inside she felt confused, lost, empty, constantly anxious or depressed, and different from others. She was uncomfortable with males of any age, and felt ill at ease with any girls she considered smarter or prettier than herself, which were most. In their presence, she felt like she was nothing unworthy to talk to them. To defend herself against her anxiety and reduce her discomfort, she behaved arrogantly. She became known as an independent snob.
Since junior high, she had felt deeply in love and obsessed with Danny, one of the basketball players. Danny was clever, seductive, and cruel, and the girls swooned over him. She found every other boy dull and lived for the hope that he would fall madly in love with her, as it seemed he had done when they went steady at 13. Yet, she also believed that he never would love her, nor would any guy.
Something was very wrong. When she was with him, she felt so nervous that she would perspire profusely, quickly soaking her blouse, which deeply humiliated her. Her hands would shake uncontrollably. When he kissed her, she felt overwhelmed with sexual pleasure and at the same time, deeply ashamed and terrified of these feelings, so she would stop his hands from slipping inside her blouse or panties. Were they to go all the way, she felt desire would overtake her and she would lose herself entirely.
If you are worried that your teen may be having problems that go beyond the normal adolescent turmoil, go with your gut feeling. Its been estimated that about fifty percent of disturbed adolescents needing help go unrecognized by adults.
Yet, she neglected the rest of her life and fantasized day and night of nothing else but the two of them making love. Her room was a mess, she was failing math, and she had to borrow a brains report to pass biology. She refused dates from other boys and had no desire to go with her friends to any party where he might not show up, her friends were losing patience with her. Her acute anxiety showed up in other ways as well. Before a game, she became so nervous about cheerleading that she felt like throwing up. She felt the same way before public speaking.
She couldnt talk to her mother about her problems. Her mother only snapped at Franny and criticized her. Franny hated her mother, whom she felt was her personal tormentor. Nor was it easy to talk to her distant and controlling father. Yet, at times he was sympathetic. So, one day she burst into tears, blurting out to him her terrifyingÂ nervousness.
Teens Who Fall Through the Cracks
Franny is among a group of adolescents called the quietly disturbed. Seemingly normal functioning, they may not be the ones with the messy green hair, and a ring through their tongue and nose but, like Franny, get good enough grades, have good enough behavior and blend in with the crowd. Some were perfect as children. Consequently, many are not brought to the attention of mental health workers and educators, and parents dismiss their fright, extreme self-consciousness, and unhappiness as a normal adolescent rite of passage.
When they emerge from their silence and loneliness and stick their heads out of the sand, some put a gun to it. Others feel compelled to make little slashes with razors and knives on their arms, not to actually kill themselves, but to make visible some of their pain. Some, like Franny, have panic attacks, debilitating phobias and anxiety, and severe depression, while others have nervous breakdowns or become anorexic or bulimic. Once in a while, one gets pregnant, tells no one, and then kills her newborn and the secret she tried to hide from everyone gets revealed to the whole world in a 30 second sound bite on the six oclock news.
Once they come out, the perfect child can become the perfect nightmare, rebellious, and even anti-social. Now they may dye their hair purple and wear butt torn jeans and a T-shirt that says, Life Sucks. Some experiment with refuse to study, do chores, participate in school activities or get a job. Someemerge at all but just carry their problems around like a heavy weight
yourself, you can be your childs best shock absorber.
If your childs behavior doesnt begin to normalize a month or so following the trauma, consider seeking professional help for your child.
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