“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

Hey Jealousy (A Retrospective Look Back at Grunge and Alternative Rock Music)

I’m gonna say it.  Despite the cliché, because it’s true: Music today just ain’t what it used to be.

I was born in 1981.  Junior high for me was 1993 to 1995.  High school was from 1995 to 1999.  And I say in all confidence that compared to the current generic decency of Nickelback and the outright douchebaggery of bands like Godsmack and Buckcherry, my generation of rock music was far superior.

Not that I have anything against the stuff they play on Jack FM (Phil Collins, Eddie Money, The Police, etc.) or my parents’ music (The Beatles, The Eagles, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc.) because I’m a huge classic music fan.  Just as I’m a Movie Guy, I’m absolutely a Music Guy as well.

I get it.  Every music lover out there seems to hold a warm place in their heart for the music that was popular when they were a teenager.  Here I am doing the same thing; I’m no different.  Those bands and songs are all attached to places, people, and stories from a time where I was “discovering who I was”.  Grunge and alternative rock makes up the soundtrack of my teenage years.

I clearly remember in 8th grade, after school getting off the bus several blocks too soon to visit the local music store (that coincidently was only open that year and the following year, when alternative music ruled the music scene) to purchase the groundbreaking Green Day album, Dookie (at the time, I was still buying cassettes, not CD’s).  From Janis Joplin to Santana to Dinosaur Jr. to Blind Melon, they had it all in stock.  Along with several racks of appropriate signs-of-the-times jewelry including, but not limited to, clay “shroom” necklaces.

What I remember most about that music store isn’t the name, being that I have no clue what it was called, but the smell.  Incense.  A sweeter smell than patchouli.  I can’t help but assume that the constantly burning incense had something to do with the store owners covering up a different smoke smell of their own.

When I hear “Ironic” or “Hand in My Pocket” or “You Learn” by Alanis Morissette, or “Today” by The Smashing Pumpkins (which I would have to declare as the official song of my teenage years), an emotional spark ignites in my brain, causing me to simultaneously travel back to 1995 and feel a rush of euphoria.

So maybe what exactly constitutes as grunge or alternative is a bit blurry.  Typically, the lyrics are abstract, weird, and sometimes bit creepy.  The guitars are layered with both “staticky” and “crystallized” effects.  Whatever it was and is, it makes me happy.  Long live grunge and alternative!

Since I released my top 25 favorite movies this week (Movie Guy, at Your Service: My Top Ten Favorites), I might as well attempt to release my top twenty favorite bands of the grunge and alternative rock era.  Yes, it is controversial, but on my list, Nirvana is not present.  Like Soundgarden, they were too depressing for me.  I’m judging these by their relevance of grunge and alternative music in my personal life.  This is not a list of my favorite bands of all time- that’s a different list altogether.

My Top Twenty Favorite Bands of the Grunge and Alternative Rock Era

1)     Smashing Pumpkins

2)     Oasis

3)     Green Day

4)     Third Eye Blind

5)     Live

6)     The Wallflowers

7)     Alanis Morissette

8)     R.E.M.

9)     Bush

10) Gin Blossoms

11) Counting Crows

12) The Cranberries

13) Matchbox Twenty

14) Weezer

15) Collective Soul

16) Red Hot Chili Peppers

17) Foo Fighters

18) Everclear

19) Pearl Jam

20) Better Than Ezra

Do you want to share your list with me?  Then do it!

Me in 1995, AKA "The Grunge Days"