Increasing Rates of Anxiety and Depression Among Teens
Getting good grades, friends, chat groups, AP classes, future careers, relationships, parents, and the list goes on. With all of these different pressures that your teens are facing these days, it is no wonder that the anxiety and depression rates have been increasing. It seems, now, that young people are not only dealing with pressure from teachers and parents but have started to feel the pressure from their peers as they compare extracurricular activities and the college credit courses that, for some reason, appear to be the expectation in high school.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for teens pushing themselves and striving for excellence; and yes it is normal, healthy even, to have a good dose of anxiety along the way.
Does Anxiety Interfere?
If someone is not feeling anxiety in some form or another, they are probably not alive. The same goes for feeling sad. We will all experience sadness and low times at one point or another as we go through life. However, when anxiety or stress makes it too hard to keep up with normal, everyday activities, or when it interferes with your life, that is when it has become too much.
The same goes for depression. If a person reaches a point where it seems too hard to face the day, they have lost interest in activities that they usually enjoy, or are having thoughts of harming themselves in any way, then it is time (immediately!!) to seek help.
The good news is that there is a lot of help out there for teens, and there are a lot of tools and therapeutic processes that can help them overcome anxiety so that it does not have to interfere with the life they want to live.
Seeking Help from Parents, and Advice from Professionals
Parents should be there to support and love their child through their life, not condemn or ridicule. Children get enough pain and angst from peers, coaches, and teachers they don’t need it from parents too.
A therapist can help with identifying the root of the issues, or where the symptoms may be coming from, and then guide them through the healing process.
Below, are some common thought patterns that may be contributing to depression and anxiety (but, remember, these are not all-inclusive, and sometimes our anxiety and depression come from deeper rooted issues, including trauma).
The first step to working on our anxiety and depression is to become aware. Reading through some of these may give you a better idea of thought patterns that could be contributing to anxiety.
- Self-talk is automatic, immediate, and appears in the telegraphic form. Stop and think about what are they saying about themselves. Become more aware.
- External event — interpretation of event and self-talk — feelings and reactions. How are events being talked about and reacted too?
- Four types of negative self-talk
Therefore, “Many cases of depression and anxiety have their root in negative reactions to negative feelings” (Henriques, 2018).
Rooting to negative reactions and feelings means that when a person experiences a negative emotion such as hurt, shame, sadness, or anger they immediately respond to that emotion with negativity; like getting mad at oneself for feeling that way. Instead of reacting negatively, help them to stop and notice their feeling, use C.A.L.M.
Use CALM Instead of Reacting Negatively
C – Curious
Instead of trying to control or escape the emotion, ask what, where, why, how, when.
A – Accept
Allow for the emotion to just be there and accept it, and notice it. Having feelings is ok!
L – Loving Kindness
Have loving compassion towards oneself and others.
M – Motivated.
Help motivate them to learn and grow toward valued states of being.
Tools to Battle Anxiety and Depression:
1 – Practice relaxation
This can be done in many ways from yoga to progressive muscle relaxation, practicing deep breathing techniques… you can find more suggestions here: https://patient.info/health/anxiety/features/relaxation-exercises).
2 – Exercise
Exercise helps with the release of endorphins which can help reduce anxiety and stress levels.
3 – Overcome negative self-talk
Keeping track of thought patterns is a helpful way to figure out the things your child may be telling themselves, then form positive counter statements. By doing this, we help them change their negative self-talk to positive.
4 – Practice meditation
There are tons of places to find help with learning to meditate, even some apps, here is one for beginners: https://theconsciouslife.com/how-to-meditate-a-guide-for-beginners.htm
5 – Write
Help them get emotions, thoughts, fears, out of their head and on to paper and then tear it up. (Tell your story, make lists, word vomit.)
6 – Seek
Seek positive relationships and eliminate toxic ones.
7 – Get Good Sleep
Make sure they get regular sleep and eat healthily. Our mind feels good when our body feels good.
8 – Externalize
Separate true self from mental illness. Help your child create an image for their anxiety. See it as something different from who they are and recognize their true nature and how anxiety tries to prevent them from being their best. The more your child identifies their weapons to fight against their fears and frustrations, the less power anxiety will have.
9 – Use your Senses
Find something and notice everything about it. What do they see, how does it feel (touch), help them to notice smells, pay careful attention to what they hear. Involving their senses will help them to focus on other things, instead of their anxiety.
10 – Practice
Encourage them to practice gratitude and perform acts of kindness.
Feeling Anxiety or Depression?
DO NOT ISOLATE! ALWAYS ASK FOR HELP!!
Whatever is going on do not isolate yourself or your child when they are experiencing anxiety; they need to feel love and connection.
In summation, it’s okay to feel some form of anxiety and depression but if it starts to interfere with normal life, seek help immediately. It’s normal and natural to experience different emotions but they don’t have to knock you down.