“Does My Teenager Have Anxiety?” (Guest Post By Noah Smith with Wellness Voyager)

Photo By: Pixabay

It is normal for your teenager to feel a little apprehensive about making a speech in class or learning a new school schedule, but sometimes these feelings cross the line into an anxiety disorder. Put simply, anxiety is “the body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations.” However, for some children, the anxiety they feel is debilitating, and could affect their sleep, concentration, ability to talk to others, school performance, and enjoyment of activities. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, adolescent anxiety has a lifetime prevalence of 25.1 percent in children 13 to 18 years old. What’s worse, if it’s not properly addressed and treated in childhood, anxiety could lead to other mental health issues like depression or addiction down the road. It is important that you and your child are able to differentiate normal worries from anxiety.

 

Recognize the Signs

Anxiety disorders will vary from teenager to teenager, but symptoms typically include excessive fears and worries, a feeling of inner restlessness, and a tendency to be extremely wary and vigilant. Even if there is no reason for your child to feel anxious and they are in a safe, calm environment, they may still experience continued feelings of nervousness, stress, and restlessness. Anxiety can cause physical symptoms as well, such as muscle tension and cramps, stomachaches, headaches, trembling, hyperventilation, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and sweating.

 

Anxiety Has Types

Anxiety describes the body’s reaction to a particular situation, but anxiety can be broken down into six different types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

GAD is categorized by excessive worry about events or activities, with the feelings being present almost constantly and floating from one situation to the next, such as fear of poor school performance or worries about what others think of them. Separation anxiety is worry about being away from the child’s parents, with fears often situated around parents not returning as promised or fear that the parent will be harmed. Although this type of disorder is most common in young children, it may be experienced by adolescents in response to stressful life events such as a divorce or deployment. If your child experiences sudden and intense periods of anxiety that come on unexpectedly, they likely have panic disorder, and may experience intense symptoms such as trouble breathing or feeling boxed in.

Fears or anxieties that result from something specific such as bugs, heights, or public speaking are referred to as phobias, and won’t affect your child unless they are directly confronted with the fear. OCD is a condition involving recurrent thoughts, impulses, or images that are hard to control. Compulsions are the behaviors the child partakes in as a means of distressing, such as hand washing or redoing an action or activity over and over again. The last category of anxiety disorder, PTSD, is the re-experiencing of a traumatic event via recollections, dreams, or associations.

 

Ways to Help

If your child is willing to talk about his or her fears and anxieties, be sure to listen carefully and be respectful of the way your child is feeling. Try to help your child trace their anxiety to a specific situation, experience, or fear in order to help reduce the anxious feelings. Keep reminding them of times when they were initially anxious, such as when they attended their first overnight camp or took their first high school exam, and help them to recall how everything worked out and their anxious feelings subsided.

It is important to recognize that sometimes outside help will be necessary. If the anxiety and fears last over six months, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) recommends seeking professional advice via a doctor or teacher, who can then suggest an adolescent psychiatrist or other professional who specializes in the treatment of adolescent anxiety disorders. Continue encouraging your child to be open with you about their feelings, while simultaneously seeking treatment to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and the effect it has on your child’s daily life.

Anxiety is a common phenomenon that most children experience at some point in their life, but be attentive to feelings and fears that become intense and affect your child detrimentally. Keep the lines of communication open with your child, and if you notice a change in your child’s behavior, talk with them about it or seek the help of a professional.

 

-This guest post was written by Noah Smith with Wellness Voyager

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Dear Jack: You’re an Independent & Confident Boy Raised by Independent & Confident Parents

6 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: You’re an Independent & Confident Boy Raised by Independent & Confident Parents

Dear Jack,

All last week you were 3 hours away, staying at Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama for Christmas break. When Mommy and I left you there the day after Christmas, there was no emotional, dramatic goodbye. It wasn’t really any different than when I drop you off at school each morning.

You weren’t worried. I say that’s because you’re an independent, confident boy.

I don’t believe you simply were born that way. I don’t believe that it’s simply your personality.

Instead, I take partial credit for it. And I give the rest of the credit to Mommy.

Both Mommy and I are independent and confident people. So naturally, we are going to proactively raise children who are the same.

Dear Jack: You’re an Independent & Confident Boy Raised by Independent & Confident Parents

I can’t say I was always this way. I feel like I’ve always been confident and believed in myself, but becoming independent was an evolving process for me.

When I was your age, I wouldn’t have been okay with spending the night away from my own parents; especially not 3 hours away!

In fact, the first time I remember spending the night at a grandparent’s house was when I was 8 years-old, and it was just 5 miles down the road.

I think it was actually a really good thing that I was 29 and a half when you were born. Had I only been in my early or mid-twenties, you would have turned out differently; I’m sure of it.

But because I had finally gained much of the maturity I needed by the time you were born, I was more prepared by life experience to raise you.

Therefore, you are not anxious or nervous to leave Mommy and I when we drop you off at places. I just wasn’t that way when I was your age.

I am so proud though that you are.

Love,

Daddy

Why I Am Not Rushing Out to See the New Star Wars Movie: The Force Awakens

Why I Am Not Rushing Out to See the New Star Wars Movie: The Force Awakens

It would be boring and cliché of me to illustrate how, as a child of the 80s, Stars Wars was a big part of my childhood and therefore, how I’m excited to take my own son to see the new Star Wars movie. So I won’t.

Granted, I’m going to take him to see it… at some point, after it’s been out a while.

But I will not be rushing out to be one of the first to see it.

Here’s why: I don’t trust crazy people enough.

And it appears I’m not alone in how I feel. Just yesterday, the New York Times published this article:

Mass Shootings Add Anxiety to Movie Theater Visits

Between all the mentally ill and armed Americans as well as ISIS members targeting crowded venues, I am for good reason expecting to see a headline on MSN about how there was a mass attack (whether shooting or bombing) at a movie theater where Star Wars: The Force Awakens was showing.

My hope is that by talking about it now, I can jinx that from happening. I definitely want to be wrong about this.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen enough in my lifetime to know the likelihood of an attack during the new Star Wars movie is decent.

Maybe part of it is my age and where I am in life, but I care a lot less about going to see movies than I did compared to when I was in my 20s.

I used to go to the movies every couple of weekends. But since August 2012, when there was the mass shooting during The Dark Knight, my eagerness has dwindled.

For me, it’s just common sense not to be where a big crowd is in relation to a special event with a lot of hype, like a new legendary movie coming out.

I’ll wait until maybe January to take my soon to see it.

It’s not that I live in fear of crazy people with guns or ISIS, but I can do my part to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My point is not “I’m never going to the movies again because mass shootings or bombings may occur.”

Instead, my point is “I’m not going to one of the biggest movie premieres of my lifetime, in an age where mentally ill and armed Americans as well as ISIS members are targeting crowded venues.”

I’ll just wait until the theaters are less packed.

Taking a God-Nudged Leap of Faith (Like a Guinea Pig)

And hoping not to fall like an idiot in the process.

Thinking back on the lyrics of the popular traditional song, I’ve never really understood or wanted to understand why ten lords were ever leaping in the first place.  But after much thought, I perhaps have come to the realization that I have been one of those lords a leaping the entire time.  Needless to say, I’m not cool with wearing tights.

Desperately trying to avoid imagined images of myself wearing tights, yet still needing to get a grasp on my way of thinking, I’ve always been a bit of a Peter Pan.  (You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.) People like me never really grow out of that 1980’s propaganda mindset for kids that taught us we could do anything dream of if we put our mind to it.  Then we graduate college and realize that with this many people graduating college, having a college degree is less of a major advantage and more of a basic necessity.

On paper, my life looks pretty normal and planned out and even typical.  But behind the scenes, my life is series of leaps of faith that always got me where I wanted to be.  And I think by now, I’m just used to it.  My life plans are often void of much practical reason, instead, they are intertwined with my lofty dreams which I interpret as God’s will for my life.

I realized a while back that God tends to use me as the Guinea pig.  He already knows the plan will work but I become the human example to show others.  This is a fate I have accepted with surprisingly little fuss.  One of out 20,000 people in America has dyshidrosis, a vicious form of eczema that consumes a person’s hands and much of their body.  I was one of those 20,000 people.  But after several years of devastating torture embedded with anxiety and some depression, my skin problem has now 100% left me.  But God wouldn’t instantly heal me like I prayed for Him to do about 30 times a day.

Instead, He spoke through the wisdom of soft-spoken people in my life.  As well as random websites.  I now know the cure for dyshidrosis and eczema.  I proudly serve as God’s spokesman on how to overcome the skin condition, refusing any monetary compensation.

I feel honored to give out  this information.  Read The Cure for Eczema. Also, my e-mail address is listed on the upper right side of the screen for my more info.

That being said, I had prayed that God would get me around or over the problem, instead He took me through the problem to the other side.  And that is a classic (yet annoying) truth about life.  God doesn’t often use instant magic to fix our problems, He enables us to solve them ourselves.

But ultimately, even after God equips us with the wisdom and direction we need to solve the current problem; the ultimate issue is whether or not we give God the credit for it.  I remind myself that life is ultimately a spiritual war, and we can either say “God is good” or “look what I figured out” when we move from “tragedy” status back to “normal”.

Like the game between Jacob and The Man in Black on LOST, we serve as islanders who prove to the spiritual audience what’s really inside of us. It’s true that physically spoken words here in the physical world play a major part in the spiritual world.  That’s why I take these words of King Solomon so seriously in Proverbs:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, but in all things, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (3:5-6).

So whatever leap of faith that is required of me from God (or that I throw myself into), I have to ask myself, “what’s the worst that can happen?”  If it is of God, or God finds favor in my plan, I’m not convinced that God will allow me to simply make a fool of myself when I am completely focused on finding a way to honor Him through it.

“Something good coming, there has to be… And I’m in it for the long run, wherever it goes, riding the river.” –Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (“Something Good Coming”)

Read the sequel to this blog, by clicking right here.

For a related post by the same author, read Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People ?

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on faith, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one