As a school psychologist and private therapist, I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of teenage girls suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. Every day I see all different kinds of kids of every race and background who are struggling with fears, worry, and sometimes panic. There is no particular type of girl (or boy) who might develop anxiety. It is an equal opportunity pain in the …you know what…and can strike when you least expect it!
So first, let’s take a look at what anxiety actually is and we’ll figure out whether your anxiety is normal or whether it has become a problem in your life.
10 Signs you may have an anxiety disorder (health.com 2018)
1. Worrying too much. Do you worry about everything, even the little stuff? People with anxiety disorders tend to “overthink” and analyze even small problems in their life.
2. Sleep problems. Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Some people with anxiety describe their mind as “racing” even when they wake up in the middle of the night.
3. Irrational fears (phobias). Do you have a specific fear or anxiety which is attached to a specific thing or situation? Fear of flying, animals, crowds or public speaking etc. can really be disruptive and problematic in your life if those fears keep you from participating in activities you used to enjoy.
4. Muscle tension. Does your head or neck ache? Do you feel like your body is never quite relaxed?
5. Stomach aches or indigestion. Anxiety may start in the mind, but it often manifests itself in the body through physical symptoms, like chronic digestive problems.
6. Self Consciousness. People with social anxiety disorder tend to feel like all eyes are on them, and they often experience blushing, trembling, nausea, profuse sweating, or difficulty talking.
7. Panic Attacks. Panic attacks can be terrifying: Picture a sudden, gripping feeling of fear and helplessness that can last for several minutes, accompanied by scary physical symptoms such as breathing problems, a pounding or racing heart, tingling or numb hands, sweating, weakness or dizziness, chest pain, stomach pain, and feeling hot or cold.
8. Flashbacks. Do you find yourself reliving traumatic events from your past? Do these thoughts create uncomfortable feelings of fear? Reliving a disturbing or traumatic event—a violent encounter, the sudden death of a loved one—is a hallmark of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which shares some features with anxiety disorders.
9. Perfectionism. Are you constantly judging and criticizing yourself? Do you procrastinate because you think you have to do things perfectly? Having overly high standards for yourself can result in feeling like you will never measure up to others yet it is you who has set unreasonably high standards.
10. Compulsive behaviors. Do you have thoughts that are obsessive and behaviors that you repeat over and over? These obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors can severely impact your ability to function normally and happily on a daily basis.
If any of the above seems familiar, you may be experiencing some anxiety. Everyone experiences worry or anxious thoughts from time to time but when these symptoms start impacting your daily life it is probably time to talk with a parent and or your doctor about your symptoms.
But if your worries seem typical ( but just annoying) you might take a look at some of these apps which teens have reported to be really helpful in managing mild anxiety
One strategy some people with anxiety swear by is self-hypnosis. A practitioner of clinic-based hypnotherapy, Donald Mackinnon developed these guided recordings. How it works: You listen to an audio recording in a quiet and safe environment and learn the technique. The recordings are more than just relaxing. They contain subliminal signals to speak to your subconscious.
Written By: Angela Wall, Ph.D
Counseling and Educational Consultation