Senior year of high school brings many exciting milestones. Most teenagers view studying for final exams, finding a date for prom and preparing for college as sometimes stressful but important rites of passage. However, for teens with an anxiety disorder, events like these can trigger constant and overwhelming feelings of worry that can cripple their ability to function.

Anxiety disorders are a mental health condition characterized by excessive worry and irrational fearfulness. There are several types, including social anxiety and panic, as well as general anxiety disorders. Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center mental health services offer expert outpatient treatment for those who are struggling.

“The key to helping your teen prevent and manage anxiety is to normalize the conversation about mental health,” said Jason Martin, LCPC, CPRP, director of mental health clinical services at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville. “Parents should feel as comfortable talking to their teens about their mental health as they are about their schoolwork.”

Assure your teen he or she is not alone.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 1 in 8 children.

Look for warning signs together.

Research shows that children and teens with untreated anxiety are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences and engage in substance abuse.

Warning signs include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Excessive worry
  • Frequent outbursts or intense irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Drug or alcohol abuse

Teens who suffer from anxiety can also experience physical symptoms such as chest pain, frequent headaches and shortness
of breath.

Don’t wait to get support. Early identification and treatment can help teens better understand their emotional triggers and develop techniques to manage anxiety, Jason said.

Overall, he emphasized, “Talk to your teen regularly about his or her feelings, anxieties and fears.”

If you or a loved one needs help for a mental illness and addiction, we're here to help.