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tcm-shanghai  >  Blog   >  Anxiety in Adolescents

Anxiety in Adolescents

Anxiety disorders are one of the most frequently diagnosed mental health disorders in teens. One study in Germany indicated that about 10% of children and adolescents suffer from anxiety disorders (Robert Koch-Intuit; BELLA-Studied). The primary anxiety disorders are: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Phobias, and Separation Anxiety.

If your child suffers from anxiety, it is wise to seek professional help. Overwhelming fears that affect everyday life and are out of proportion to the danger are different from normal feelings of stress Anxiety disorders usually do not disappear on their own, so they typically become chronic without proper treatment. But, there is good news: appropriate treatment methods can get most anxiety disorders well under control. Early intervention will not only provide a better quality of life for your child, but allows treatment methods to work more quickly and effectively.

Schools can play a big role in helping to identify anxiety in children and teens. Teachers and other school professionals see your children all day and may notice changes first. If you are contacted by the teacher or school social worker about such concerns, it is best to listen to what they have observed and consider a doctor’s visit to rule out medical causes followed by psychological treatment when appropriate.

You may notice your child displaying high levels of worry about things like future disasters, illness, school tests or many small issues. The child tries to keep the anxiety about these situations under control by constantly checking other people/situations, but they find their behaviors don’t actually lower their anxiety. You may also notice your teen avoiding situations. This can lead to social isolation and massive constraints on daily life. Depression and other anxiety disorders can accompany GAD.

How is Generalized Anxiety Disorder treated in adolescents?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is highly effective in treating anxiety. This therapy starts with an understanding of how thoughts, feelings and behavior work together. By identifying patterns of negative (anxious) thoughts, the child can learn how to challenge them or change them to more realistic thinking. The therapist often teaches the client relaxation techniques, to help teens to better cope with their fears. Medication may be recommended in some cases, with the consultation of a doctor/psychiatrist. The combination of medication and CBT can be highly effective for serious cases of anxiety.

What else can teens and parents do to help keep anxiety under control?

Children and teens with an anxiety disorder need treatment, as the problem generally will not resolve on its own. Once the client has had treatment and has the coping tools, the following lifestyle factors can support continued mental well-being:

• Socialization/a good social network

• Engaging in regular exercise (sports and daily movement like walking and riding a bike)

• Healthy diet (caffeine can mimic symptoms of anxiety so it is best to eliminate or reduce; alcohol and recreational drugs can also increase anxiety and negative emotions)

• Taking breaks

• Relaxation: doing yoga, practicing meditation or relaxation techniques (this is one of the useful tools the psychologist can teach the child to keep anxiety under control)

• Reducing stress in daily life and/or identify stressors to find strategies to better deal with them or reduce exposure

If you are concerned about anxiety in your child, contact Body & Soulto make an appointment. For an appointment with one of our therapists. We have a team of psychologists at our various clinics throughout Shanghai to help.

Make sure to check our blog for more information about anxiety as we will share more in a future article about task anxiety and coping with stress from academic pressure.

Petra is a German speaking psychologist, who combines parts of the cognitive behavior therapy with elements of positive psychology. She is specialized in treating anxiety disorders and social anxiety. She conducts several relaxation techniques (autogenous training, progressive muscle relaxation and body scan. She helps her patients learn how to recognize the root and causes of stress, while simultaneously develop strategies and resources to better deal with difficult situations in their daily lives.

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Body & Soul is your solution for wellness in Shanghai, with over 13 years successfully treating patients with a holistic blend of TCM and Western therapies. We also offer Shanghai’s largest team of multi-disciplinary pain management and rehabilitation experts.