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How Teens React to Anxiety and Stress

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Life as a teenager in 2020 is quite possibly the most stressful time in history. From a global pandemic, to racial tension, to an election, to remote learning, to high rates of unemployment: teens have a lot to worry about because all of it impacts their lives no matter their family situation. On top of it all, they still need to focus on getting good grades, being admitted to college, or finding employment to help their family survive and to ensure their future. More than ever,  BasePoint Academy is dedicated to providing a safe place for teens and their families to deal with anxiety and stress in Texas. In the paragraphs below, we help you identify signs and symptoms of anxiety so you can get help sooner.

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An Extrovert May Become Withdrawn

If your teen is normally very outgoing, highly social, and makes friends easily; you may be surprised if they suddenly seem to become withdrawn. Some teens may prefer isolation from their parents and siblings, but usually thrive with friends. Withdrawing from all friendships and even electronic interaction may be cause for concern: but, it’s important to know your teen’s  baseline because it could look different in every teen.

If your teen stops wanting to spend time with friends, isn’t interacting with them on social media or talking on the phone, and has reduced their involvement in extracurricular activities; it could be that their anxiety and stress levels have taken a toll. Loved ones should keep a close eye on how your teen socializes with others. If you see a drastic change in their desire to interact with friends in any way, it’s time to seek help.

Changes in Sleep Habits

You’ve likely had trouble rousing your teen out of bed for school in the morning, and if allowed they likely sleep until early afternoon on weekends. Most teens love to sleep: their bodies are growing and need that rest. But when teens are experiencing anxiety and stress, you may start to hear continuous complaints about not feeling well or that they are never able to get enough sleep. When anxiety dominates their lives, fatigue is exaggerated greatly: they are excessively tired and even feel weak. When exploring the causes for these symptoms it is discovered that they are lying awake at night worrying about everything going on in their lives- just like adults, sometimes they just can’t shut their mind off. Depression can also develop from prolonged stress and anxiety and cause sleep disruptions or even the desire to isolate through sleep. Any of these shifts in sleep habits should be explored for the root cause to ensure the right help is given.

Changes in Sleep Habits

Changes in Food Habits

You may see food habits change in your stressed teenager. Stress or emotional eating is a real reaction to anxiety that is often seen in teens and adults alike. They might lose or gain weight unintentionally as their appetite adversely reacts to their triggers and stressors by either making the desire to eat be ignored or causing your teen to overeat. Major life events and daily struggles can trigger appetite fluctuations that can lead to additional and even more serious issues that will need to be addressed.

Inability to Make Decisions

The inability to make decisions is a telling sign of anxiety. Teens may be irrational in their logic and belief that if they make the wrong decision it will result in friends, family members, teachers, or anyone else in their life being upset. To avoid disappointing anyone, they would rather avoid having to make a decision at all.

Increases in Risky Behavior

At some point in adolescence and as teens experience more independence, their natural curiosities and boundary testing will include some form of risky behavior. However, if your teen has exhibited a marked increase in risky behaviors it may be that they are trying to alleviate high levels of anxiety and stress. Teens may believe they experience relief, or an escape from their anxiety and stress, through drug use, drinking, smoking, vaping, vandalism or other illegal activities. Unfortunately, this type of relief is proven to be short-lived and the long-term consequences could be far-reaching.

Becoming Forgetful and Disorganized

Becoming Forgetful and Disorganized

Anxiety makes it difficult for teens to remember things and even the most organized may seem flustered. These symptoms can seep into their academic life: leading to poor grades and low test scores. They might also have trouble learning new things because they are so focused on the cause of their stress and struggles at home or in other areas of their personal lives.

Struggles with Self-Image

Almost every teen, whether they suffer from anxiety or not, will struggle with their self-image. On top of the physical changes that their body is experiencing, social media has created unrealistic expectations of beauty. There’s increased pressure these days to have the perfect face, body, or clothes, and there is a constant count of virtual followers, “friends”, and “likes” that seemingly keep a constant tally on what others think of them and how they are viewed by the world. This is all internalized as truth and has proven to cause skewed self images and, in turn,  increased  levels of stress and anxiety.

An Unhealthy Focus on Anxiety

Once it starts, some teens may develop an unhealthy focus on their anxiety and get stuck in an unhealthy thought process around it. They will need to be taught a new way of thinking in order to gain control of their thoughts and stop obsessing. At BasePoint Academy, we teach the cognitive model: our thoughts influence our emotions, which then influence our behavior. So, if you’re consistently stuck on an anxious thought, you’re going to consistently feel hopeless and anxious and then you’re going to behave that way. Although the teachings are logical, teens will need to be willing to build their self-confidence and trust in themselves and their support system in order to take the steps necessary to gain control over those thoughts. It will take love and support and our team is here to help.

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It’s important to stay close to your teen and keep communication open while they learn to navigate the world – especially in light of recent, major current events.  If your normally outgoing teenager has become withdrawn, their eating habits have changed, or participation in risky behaviors is  getting excessive: these are all possible signs of high levels of anxiety and stress in teenagers. Whatever the symptoms, you can seek help for your teen at BasePoint Academy in Texas. Call us today at (972) 325-2633 to schedule a complimentary assessment. We offer tours of our facilities so your teen feels safe and comfortable prior to their assessment with our trusted and qualified team members.