My Teenage Son Is Complaining of Anxiety

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A little bit of anxiety is normal. Everyone worries and is fearful from time to time. It is when this anxiety becomes exaggerated or starts taking over your life that it has become a problem. When a teenage boy suffers from an anxiety disorder, he may not be performing well in school, he may not be able to participate in sports anymore or be able to make or keep his friends, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

What Can Happen

If not treated, anxiety disorders in teenagers can lead to repeated absences from school, impaired relations with friends, low self-esteem, drug or alcohol use and problems at work, according to the National Mental Health Information Center. The anxiety disorder can also stay with your son when he enters adulthood.

Types

Anxiety disorders affect teens in a variety of ways. Generalized anxiety disorder is when your teen worries about life in general. People with generalized anxiety disorder are typically extremely self-conscious and tense.

With separation anxiety, your teenager is too clingy with you. Teens who have this often have trouble falling asleep, are often depressed and may be fearful that a family member is going to die. Your teen may deny having separation anxiety, but if he is reluctant to leave home or become more independent, he may have this.

Certain types of phobias, which are unrealistic and excessive fears, are also anxieties. Social phobia, also called social anxiety, is one phobia that teenage boys can get. When teens have this, they are afraid of their peers judging them harshly, so they tend to stay away from any social situation, which greatly restricts their lives.

Panic disorder manifests itself by a pounding heartbeat, sweating, dizziness and even a fear of death. These panic attacks can scare young people so much that they live in constant dread of having another one.

Reasons for Having Anxiety Disorder

A predisposition toward being timid or nervous is inborn, according to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. If you or your husband is anxious, you may be communicating your own anxieties to your child, creating a cycle of uneasiness. Anxieties could also have begun when your teen was a child and feared being separated from you.

What You Can Do

Try to talk to your son about what he is fearful and anxious about. Explain how much of his fears are all natural parts of adolescence. Fears can be wide-ranging and include everything from uneasiness about his body to his academic or sports performance to peer acceptance. Many boys do not want to talk about their feelings, but in many cases, it helps your son to know you are trying to help him.

When to Seek Professional Help

If the anxiety is lasting longer than six months, you should seek professional help. Your son will probably try a variety of treatment methods that your health care provider will individualize to his particular anxiety. Once treatment starts, the prognosis is good, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Parents are usually included in the treatment plans. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one treatment method. Your son will learn how to anticipate and recognize his fears and then will practice corrective approaches to the problem. Psychotherapy is another method. For severe symptoms, a psychiatrist may prescribe medications.

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