Categories
Stress

4 Causes of Teenage Stress

Teenagers can and will stress over anything. Assigning an order to the causes of teenage stress is futile. Each of our lives plays out very differently, and there are experiences we will not be able to share with other people around us – nor would we want to, in some cases.

But being able to identify common sources of teenage stress is valuable, both to parents and other teens, as a means of demonstrating how and why stress affects us in our day-to-day lives and finding healthier ways to cope with it. Stress management, which includes preventing and modulating stress through specific coping skills, preventative measures, and appropriate changes to your routine, is crucial.

How stressed are kids, really? The answer might surprise you. While we do live in an age of convenience, this has drawbacks for growing teens. Statistics for teen anxiety are higher than ever, partly owing to a greater understanding of anxiety and its frequency in modern society, as well as a decreased stigma regarding mental health.

One in three teens is estimated to have an anxiety disorder, and over 8 percent of that third struggles with severe impairment because of their anxiety. Girls are particularly prone, at 38 percent versus 26 percent of boys.

Yet even if we account for these changes, teens still seem to have more reasons to be anxious than in the recent past.

What are the Causes of Teenage Stress?

Teens are subjected to more media and information than ever before. And little of it is inspiring these days. World and political events have taken their toll on the last two generations, whether it’s a financial crisis, gun violence, a pandemic, race relations, or climate change.

Closer to home, teens are actively affected by self-image problems propagated online, especially on platforms like Instagram. These self-image problems are almost endemic, creating a wave of physical and social anxieties, complexes, and insecurities.

Nothing new, older generations might argue – magazines and TV ads have been around for a long time, and teens have always been insecure about their bodies. But the predatory systems surrounding the beauty, fitness, and wellness industries have never been quite this powerful, pervasive, widespread, or accessible on a minute-to-minute level, 24/7.

And finally, teens feel more stressed about school than before. COVID aside, statistics indicate that over 40 percent of teens feel overwhelmed by what they have to get done in their first year of college, versus 28 percent in 2000 and only 18 in 1985. World eventsschoolself-esteem. What are a few other common things that teens stress about? Let’s take a look.

1. Physical Changes

A tale as old as time is the tale of coming to age. And a common trope in this tale is that the body is ever-changing for a young teen – and these changes can range from awe-inspiring to awfully awkward. It’s a trope for a reason – teenagers are going through the strange phase between childhood and adulthood where their bodies develop at an irregular rate, in irregular intervals, and with irregular focus.

Some teens develop faster than others, develop early, then stop early, or late but develop longer. And just like children, teens can be terribly cruel to each other. Physical changes are a common source of stress and anxiety, contributing to self-esteem issues already propagated by their media consumption.

There is no easy way around these issues. You can’t tell a teen that they’ll feel more comfortable in their body when it’s finished growing. Many adults never become comfortable in their own skin. Instead, you need to focus on helping your teen get comfortable with who they are in the moment.

2. Social Anxieties

Social anxiety is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders. We’ve mentioned that teen rates of anxiety have skyrocketed over the years to one-third of our youth, and many of these cases involve social anxiety issues.

More than introversion, or the preference for a small company of people (or solitude), a social anxiety disorder revolves around fear and worry of embarrassment, perceived self-image, and gossip.

Teens with social anxiety disorders will go out of their way to avoid situations where they might have to meet new people without thorough preparation and thought and will constantly worry about how they are perceived. These feelings can be debilitating in the way they affect a teen’s school life, personal life, and future. Social anxiety disorders must be addressed professionally through therapy and, in some cases, an anti-anxiety medication.

3. Home Environment

Another common source of teenage stress is the home. Whether it’s a noisy family, younger siblings, cramped living spaces, lack of privacy, or greater problems at home – from abuse to substance use – our home environment can have both a tremendously positive and terribly negative influence on us.

Either way, addressing problems at home is easier said than done. There’s little a teen can do to help their family out of poverty without defeating the purpose of better managing their own stress levels, for example.

Under certain circumstances, family matters can be addressed in treatment via family therapy. This is an example of group therapy where a therapist works with their patient and multiple members of their family to foster reconciliation, better help them understand each other, or explain how to offer better support.

4. Poor Sleep

How you treat your body has a massive impact on your mental health, including anxiety. A difference of even half an hour a day can have a marked effect on a teen’s memory and cognitive skills, as well as their mood management and anxious thinking.

Chronically under-rested teens are much more likely to develop different mental health issues. Improved sleep hygiene – such as preparing a cold, dark room before bed, avoiding screens an hour before sleeping, and more physical activity throughout the day – can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.

Stress management techniques come in many shapes and forms. “Just” addressing the problem is not always an option, and even if it is, it can take a great deal of time and effort to address certain things such as problems at home or vicious bullying.

Stress management techniques or coping skills aim to help teens develop ways through which to empower themselves, improve their self-esteem, and detach themselves from sources of toxicity in their lives.

Sometimes, your best bet as a teen is to talk to someone. A counselor or therapist can help you learn more about how to cope with your stress and find ways to combat it healthily. 

Categories
Anxiety Stress

The Impact of Anxiety and Stress in Teens

Teens are worried. They’re worried about themselves, they’re worried about their chances in the world, they’re worried about the state of things. And between a pandemic, lockdowns, the news, and social media, teens have been getting more steadily worried in the past two years than perhaps ever before.

It’s normal to worry. There are many things in life that can be described as uncertain at best, and teens are caught in the middle of many awkward moments.

They’re not quite children, but they aren’t adults either, meaning they’re struggling to juggle newfound responsibilities while still facing an inevitable lack of agency. Becoming a teen also means accepting change on a near-daily basis.

Physical changes, social changes, societal changes. In addition to growing responsibilities, teens are subjected to new hierarchies and environments, a switch from middle to high school and college, thoughts about careers, and “adult” problems, from safe sex to avoiding drugs.

But anxiety is more than worry. There’s a difference between having a hard time and being paralyzed by fear. There’s a difference between moments of anxious thought and uncertainty, and a constant feeling that things aren’t right. There’s a difference between worrying about exams, or catching up to others in height and growth, and experiencing panic attacks, frequent self-deprecation, and difficult, intrusive thoughts.

It’s also very difficult for most parents to differentiate between anxious thoughts and normal teen behavior. Teens aren’t little kids anymore, and many of them are quite good at hiding their emotions. But there are still telltale signs that parents need to beware of and symptoms that require attention.

How Anxiety Can Affect Teens

Beyond the usual worries, an anxiety disorder can be a debilitating issue for a teen. Anxiety disorders are the most common kind of mental health disorder, affecting roughly 30 percent of adolescents.

Anxiety disorders are known for their characteristic symptoms of paralyzing fear or worry, but it’s worse than that. Many anxiety disorders are coupled with physical symptoms, as well, from hyperventilation to full-blown panic attacks.

Teens can learn to mask these feelings, hiding the fact that they’re struggling to breathe or feeling their heart racing in what would otherwise be considered completely normal circumstances. To a teen with anxiety, certain situations that are otherwise non-confrontational or dangerous can become an insurmountable source of stress.

Some teens deal with these overwhelming emotions by finding ways to avoid the things that cause them to panic, even indirectly, such as by complaining about headaches or stomachaches. In many cases, these somatic pain symptoms are real, caused by the stress associated with the anxiety.

These anxious thoughts can slow personal growth, as well. Kids diagnosed with anxiety disorders have a harder time concentrating and retaining information. They will have a harder time learning and understanding what they’ve learned. They may still be more than capable enough of passing classes and delivering good grades, but at a great cost to their mental wellbeing.

In fact, while anxiety can make it harder to learn, many anxious kids become overachievers to the detriment of their health. Caught in a cycle, they’re fueled by a fear of underperforming, which further feeds the anxieties that make it harder for them to perform.  

What Are Teenagers Anxious About?

There are many reasons to be anxious as an adult. Prices are skyrocketing, we’re in the aftermath of multiple successive recessions, world markets are still reeling from a historic pandemic, wages remain stagnant, and more. Yet teens can feel these anxieties as well, and many understand them the same way adults do.

Anxious teens are worried about the world they’re growing into, on top of their own pressures to perform well, get into a good college, find a great paying job early on, pursue their dreams, find their dream, be in a relationship, and juggle a million other perceived responsibilities and expectations – many of which they are placing upon themselves.

Expectations serve as a massive underlying foundation for teen worries and anxieties, especially unrealistic ones. Even supportive parents who work hard not to define their wishes for their teens may find an anxious teen grappling with massive expectations for themselves.

The body is another common source of anxiety for teens. Teens are worried about being too short. Too tall. Too fat. Too skinny. Not muscular enough. Not strong enough. Not fast enough. They want a smaller nose, or a bigger nose, or different hair, or better skin, or a different jawline, or a different voice.

Couple these anxieties with the fact that teens experience growth spurts at different points in their adolescent lives, and they become massively magnified. Some kids in school look like they’re 19 at age 15 and are naturally gifted athletes. Others might look like they’re 12 despite approaching senior year.

What Parents Can Do

It can be challenging to parent a teen with anxiety issues. They’re often much harder on themselves than you could be on them, and they might not be very receptive to praise or affirmation.

Offering your support is an important first step. Give your teen a safe space at home to talk about their feelings and their worries, to rant and discuss how they really feel. Talk to them about getting help together to seek effective ways to reduce the pressure they feel and help them thrive.

Group therapy and family therapy are good alternatives to one-on-one therapy if a teen feels uncomfortable going into therapy alone for the first few times. In addition to therapy, doctors can help your teen by prescribing medication that might reduce the severity of their symptoms, enough to help therapy achieve a greater impact in the long term.

The catalyst for change in many cases of anxiety is a teen’s own capacity to identify and correct their self-destructive or irrational thoughts. But it takes time, patience, and a lot of support to overcome the impulse to be self-critical or self-loathing and focus on the positives for a change.

Getting Help for Teen Anxiety

Teen anxiety issues can be co-dependent on other mental health problems, including depressive thoughts or teen drug use. A proper treatment plan encompasses a teen’s issues in their entirety, treating the person, not just the diagnosis. Be sure to find someone your teen likes working with, someone they trust and can confide in. Comfort is important.

Categories
Stress

Stress Management for Teens: An Overview

Stress management for teens is a component of their daily life. A response to challenge and adversity, and an all-encompassing word for that feeling we get when we’re pressed for time and have things to do. But stress, like anything else, can devolve into poison. Given a high enough dosage, it feeds anxiety and negative thinking. It affects you physically. It makes you achy, tired, and sad. Learning to manage your stress levels is one of the most important things for long and healthy life, not to mention a happy one.

It’s important to understand where your limits lie when they’re being stretched, and what you could or should do to reign your stress levels back in. This is especially important for teens. Teens are faced with the challenges of growing into adulthood while taking on ever-growing tasks and responsibilities. High stress can lead to poor academic performance, lack of sleep, poor diet, unhealthy weight loss or weight gain, physical fatigue, and loss of motivation. Let’s look at a few key lessons in addressing stress management for teens.

Preventing Preventable Stressors

An important part of stress management for teens is understanding that stress can cascade. That means preventing the little stressors can help reduce the pile-on effect of long-term stress. Take joy where you can find it. Seek out the little pleasures. Adopt a routine that helps you start each day off on a good note. Find whatever makes you happy for just a moment, and make sure to incorporate it into your mornings, your breaks, your evening comedown.

Relaxing and Stabilizing

This is extraordinarily difficult for a lot of teens. A lot of teens will avoid relaxing or seeking out short-term stress relief because they’ve got deadlines, due dates, overdue projects, and a million other things bothering them. They might be going through family trouble, relationship issues, broken friendships, or grief over a personal loss.

A lot of stress is unavoidable. But the stress you place on yourself can be avoided. Give yourself a break. Recognize when your body is giving you the telltale signs that enough is enough – and do what you must to take a step back and prevent a breakdown. Here are a few signs that you are approaching your limit:

  • You’re constantly sore in the neck and back.
  • Can feel your heart race at random moments.
  • Have a hard time concentrating on anything anymore.
  • Feel absolutely overwhelmed, and sometimes, on the verge of tears.
  • You don’t seem to wake up energized no matter how much you rest or sleep.
  • Your jaw is painful and tight all of a sudden, despite it never being a problem before.

Addressing Time and Stress Management for Teens

A lot of stress for teens is time-related. Will I have enough time to cram for the exam and hang out with my friends? Do I have enough time to make it to the bus and not be late for school? Could I have enough time to finish up and pass this project? These time management issues continue to haunt us in adulthood. They result in missed deadlines, lost job opportunities, fumbled raises, and family resentment.

A poor work-life balance and terrible time management skills can fuel anxieties about yourself and your future, and feed depressive thoughts. Learning to manage your time leads to managing stress. If you feel yourself spiraling out of control, set strict schedules, and leave room for relaxation. That means being realistic about when you wake up and go to bed, setting daily goals, creating incentives for those goals, and ending every night with something that helps calm you and take your mind off your studies or work.

Bottling and Internalizing

It’s something you might have heard before, but it bears repeating – there’s no use in bottling your stress up inside. Ignoring stress and its psychological impact is not enough to compensate for your perceived lack of productivity. In fact, it will generally make you perform worse, whether at school, at work, or even at home. Even if you treat your body like a tool rather than, well, your body, you have to recognize that tools break down without regular maintenance and upkeep. We all need breaks and opportunities to take a breath.

Learning Healthy Coping Mechanisms

There are a few concrete ways to reduce your stress levels besides doing something you already love doing. Managing your stress levels successfully usually means incorporating at least one of the following into your schedule:

Exploring and Recharging

Nature is an amazing physical and mental recharger. A stroll through the park or a walk in the woods has definite health benefits and can drastically lower your overall stress levels. If you live near some nature and just can’t get anything done for the day, take an hour or two to drive to the park or to the woods and soak it in for a while.

Moving and Breathing

We know exercise is good for us, but it’s often underestimated just how good it can be for the mind, too. Teens should regularly get moving to try and build healthier habits for the future. That doesn’t necessarily mean sports or the gym. You can benefit from the positive effects of movement through dancing, swimming, skipping rope, short hikes, and much more.

Understanding the Difference Between Good and Bad Stress

Stress itself is not a bad thing. But we want to steer clear from romanticizing extreme stress levels. Workaholics are not role models, and you shouldn’t want to be the kind of student who studies deep into the night every night. Unsustainable practices are unsustainable for a reason, and they will wear your body and mind down to the point where you come to a grinding halt and can’t do anything anymore. But stress is still important adversity and one we need.

Stress is a sign that we are getting motivated. When you have stress it can be a positive force to fuel self-improvement. Some stress can help us do better. Stress is also normal. When you take a test, It’s normal to be stressed. It can be normal to be stressed about landing that job interview. There are times when it can be normal to be stressed about your first time driving. It’s when stress seeps into mundane and everyday moments that it’s all becoming too much.

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Mental Health Stress

6 Tips for Teens with Stress and Mental Health Issues

If you experience long-lasting periods of stress, you may be interested in learning more about the connection between stress and mental health issues.

Teens today are more stressed and struggle more with their mental health than in years prior. This steady climb can be attributed to a number of things: the information age and data flood, social media and its effects on self-esteem, the 24-hour news cycle, economic downturn, climate change, a historic pandemic, worsened access to treatment, and much more. 

Finding things to blame doesn’t help affect a teen’s anxieties and unwanted thoughts, but it can help friends and family learn how to help promote a teen’s wellbeing. 

Positive psychology, engaging negative thoughts constructively, developing individualized coping mechanisms, and promoting physical health are some of the ways we can help teens with their stress and mental health issues. Below are a few more useful tips. 

End Screen Use Early

Limiting screen time is not the end all be all of the mental health tips. In fact, it might do more harm than good in terms of affecting your relationship with your child, and their relationship with friends. But an important habit that you should focus on implementing throughout the household – and across generations – is eliminating screens an hour or so before bed. 

It isn’t so much about defeating electronic dependence (which is not feasible in an age where computer literacy and interconnectivity are social requirements) as it is about helping teens develop healthier habits for winding down mentally and physically at night. There’s a lot of mental stimulation on the smartphone and computer, and that can heavily disturb natural sleep hygiene. This brings us to the next tip: 

Get More Quality Sleep

Sleep is critically underrated for both physical and mental health. Missing an hour can be massively detrimental to both mood and cognition, and even just a few minutes lost or gained per day can make a difference in the long term. 

But getting good sleep can be notoriously difficult. It doesn’t help that the natural circadian rhythm is altered during adolescence so that the brain releases sleep-inducing chemicals later at night than both children and even adults. Yes, teens normally stay up a little later, without the help of a screen. 

Helping your teen develop better sleep hygiene by creating a consistent sleep ritual with them can ensure that they’re still managing to take care of their daily obligations while getting enough sleep – at least eight hours. Elements of good sleep rituals include: 

  • Calming ambient noise
  • A relaxing night-time tea (herbal infusions, no green tea content). 
  • Keeping the room dim or completely dark
  • Keeping the room cool for sleep

Remind Yourself of Positive Personal Qualities

Positive reinforcement, affirmations, or self-care – whatever you’d like to call it, it’s important to take the time to remind yourself of what you’re good at, or what you’re proud of. The same goes for your teen. 

Negative thoughts are self-fulfilling and cyclical, feeding into each other to create a spiral that feels impossible to escape. Positive thinking can help a teen get out of that spiral, but sometimes, they need help. 

Giving your teen important affirmations can help remind them that they’re not all bad, even on days when it feels that way. 

It can also help encourage them to focus and strengthen those positive qualities, especially if they’re self-conscious or anxious. Build your teen’s self-esteem by helping them hone their skills, develop new ones, and explore their potential in a number of different activities and fields of interest. 

Do What Makes You Happy

It doesn’t necessarily come as much of a surprise but doing something you enjoy doing can help with stress and low mood, to the point that therapists may recommend picking up hobbies that used to be enjoyable to patients with depression, because sometimes that can help trigger fond memories and release dopamine. 

We all need something that makes us happy, whether it’s exercise, cross-stitching, drawing, or a number of different activities. Just help your teen balance the pros and cons of their hobbies by ensuring they get enough sleep, movement, and time to fulfill their obligations. 

Get Moving

Exercise has a positive impact on mental health and it’s a habit teens should develop early. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean convincing teens to jog, get into the track, hit the gym, or take up another sport. Lead by example and take your teen on more physical activities whenever you can – such as hiking, climbing, swimming, or just a few afternoon walks. 

Encourage your teen to try out for things they haven’t tried before, from dancing to badminton. While plenty of people dislike exercising, there’s usually at least one thing people like doing that involves movement. Help your teen find it. 

Talk to an Adult

Being a teenager is always difficult. Being a teenager and struggling with your mental health is something else entirely. It’s important to take some time to give yourself credit and remember the things you get right – especially on the days when it feels like you’re doing everything wrong. 

And when that fails, it’s especially important to seek the ear of someone willing to listen. Talk to a parent, a teacher, a counselor, or a therapist. You may be surprised how much they can relate to how you feel, or the advice they might be able to offer. 

Taking the time to learn more about local resources is important, too. Find groups with a mutual interest in mental health and wellness and find others in your age group who talk about their experiences with anxiety, depression, and other disorders. 

When the time is right, call a professional. Not only can therapy help you learn ways to cope with how you feel right now, but it can prove invaluable as a way to seek help when nothing else works. Mental health treatment isn’t always about pills and schedules – it’s a long-term process, filled with learning, asking questions, practicing things, and reaching out to others, both to help and be helped.

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Mental Health Stress

How to Survive Teen Stress, Depression and Social Isolation

Teenagers are among the highest demographic group to experience mental health disorders. Surveys have shown that at least one in five – or 20% – of all teens suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition.

During this current time of COVID-19, teen mental health stability may be even more hard to come by. The best defenses against teen stress and mental illness are arming yourself with information, making adjustments where you can, and seeking help when you don’t know what to do.

Social Isolation Triggers of Teen Stress During COVID-19

While mental health concerns are always looming, the current pandemic has supplied some extra fuel for that potential fire. Personality factors, home life, disruptions to routine, and personal losses as a result of COVID-19 influence can all play a role in triggering unhealthy psychological responses to teen stress.

    • Personality and behavior: The effects that social distancing orders have on an individual are likely to vary with the person’s personality bend. Teens who are more introverted tend to have an easier time with a lack of socialization opportunities, while extroverted teens may feel trapped, depressed, and anxious without their typical outlets being available. If you are curious about whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you can get an idea by taking a free personality test.
    • Social isolation and connection: Human beings are creatures of habit. We find comfort in knowing what we are going to be doing from day to day. With all of the daily changes surrounding COVID-19, our routines have been disrupted multiple times, and the end of these changes is nowhere in sight. There is constant talk of more restrictions, less restrictions, getting back to work and school, and staying in place.
    • Life events and milestones: There are certain events that many teenagers anticipate as hallmarks of their high school years. There are proms and formals, shows to perform, and the capstone event of walking across the stage at graduation. This pandemic has disrupted all of those plans. In addition to having to establish new routines, teens may also be having to cope with disappointment surrounding the loss of important milestones.
    • Family functioning and resilience: The shelter-in-place orders have many of us spending more time with our immediate family. If the family is already on friendly terms, this can be a great opportunity to reconnect and spend some quality time together. If the family is not so prone to get along, being cooped up with each other for this amount of time can feel like a prison sentence. Patience for each other can grow short, and arguments can become more frequent.

Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Adolescent Emotional Distress

A sudden change in routines and habits can be stressful on everyone. We can expect to feel even more stress as everything slowly shifts into the “new normal” that we will eventually be living in. The following are some common signs that all of these changes are taking a toll on your mental health.

Teen Anxiety

Anxiety involves worry and fear about the future. Teens already have a lot on their plate when it comes to dealing with future unknowns, and the pandemic isn’t helping. Plans for the next school year are still up in the air, families are worried about finances, and career options after graduation may have been altered. While feeling some measure of anxiety over all of this can be considered normal, levels of anxiety which keep you from completing basic tasks or enjoying simple pleasures are cause for concern.

Teen Depression

Some feelings of sadness and loss are normal during this time of adjustment. Clinical depression occurs when those feelings don’t go away, and when they begin to rob you of the ability to find pleasure in anything. People who are depressed may not want to think about the future, and will lose interest in activities that were once enjoyed. In extreme cases, a depressed person may even think about ending it all through suicide.

Teen Substance Use and Abuse

There are a few factors which tend to contribute to the development of a substance abuse disorder. Existing mental health issues is one. Boredom is another. The conditions created by the social distancing orders can include an increase in both of these areas. If you throw in a chaotic home life, the temptation to escape through drugs or alcohol can be even more intense. As most former addicts can tell you, giving in to this temptation is never worth it.

Preventing and Preparing for a Teen Mental Health Crisis

While teen stress responses to our current circumstances can be extreme, there are healthy ways that we can take that edge off. Being proactive about your mental health can put you back in control of where your life is heading. The following are a few ways to take charge of the situation.

    • Create healthy and productive routines: During a time when the world has lost its daily routine, it is very important that you take charge in creating your own. In addition to setting up some daily rituals toward completing your school  or chore tasks, make sure to include some habits which bring you a sense of peace or comfort. Popular self-care routines include spending a few minutes a day in meditation, treating yourself to a long bath or shower, or setting a daily time to connect with friends.
    • Embrace technology: Young people are often chastised for how much they rely on the internet and social media. For once, they are being encouraged to use more of it. Use your technological expertise to create unique ways to connect with friends over virtual platforms, and share your knowledge with family members who may not have wanted to dive into the tech world before the pandemic. This might even be a great time to finally start up your own blog or channel.
    • Ask for help when/if/as needed: One of the most important skills in navigating life is knowing when we need to ask for help. In addition to an increase in services for many local agencies, there is also increased promotion of national mental health support services. Methods of receiving this type of support include phone calls, video chats, and texting. These types of services can be used while in crisis, and beforehand.
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Adolescence Anxiety Mental Health Stress

Living With Anxiety

Life can be challenging enough without being affected by something that throws off your emotions, disrupts time with friends and everything about your internal universe. Living with anxiety is one of those conditions that affects nearly 18% of the population; that’s a large percentage that deals with acute stress from anxiety on a daily basis. It may not seem that serious to people who never experienced it before, but for those of us that have it, anxiety can change everything.

Understanding Anxiety

Think about that 18%, and think about who is a part of that number—your friends, daughters, sons, mothers, brothers, wives, boyfriends, sisters, etc. To understand what people living with this disorder go through it’s a good idea to know what anxiety is, so that when they experience an event you can be there for support. Anxiety is a stress-related disorder that is considered a mental health condition caused by intense feelings of worry and fear about a variety of things like health related concerns, social situations and more.

One small thing like a pain in your left arm, to someone with acute anxiety, can feel like a heart attack when it’s just a nerve. These little things escalate quickly because our minds, and in that moment, it’s all real. Can you imagine feeling like that all of the time? People that live with anxiety, often don’t have any idea when an event will happen or what the intensity of the event will be. So you can imagine how difficult it is to prepare for, constantly in a state of worry about a future anxiety or panic attack.

We say the event because they are considered disrupting to our daily activities and can make it difficult to engage in anything else other than what’s happening in our heads. Some people will experience similar symptoms that tell them an episode is coming that allows them to be prepared for the experience; others have no idea or are not entirely sure what they’re experiencing until it’s happened enough times to see a physician and be correctly diagnosed.

Common symptoms of an anxiety attack:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Numbness
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Clammy palms and sweating
  • Irritation
  • Restlessness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Nausea

Anxiety is Managed, Not Cured

The problem with anxiety is that the feeling of nervousness and paranoia cannot be avoided, you just learn to work through them or manage them differently. Unfortunately, those with anxiety have to experience an attack multiple times before they understand something is wrong. Medications have been used to tone down symptoms or calm the mind, but counseling is the best method and to figure out what works best for you when you experience an attack. There is no cure, but it’s manageable.

Famous People Suffering from Anxiety

Whether you realize it or not, many famous people suffer from anxiety every day. These celebrities deal with bouts of nervous feelings and fear as they’re performing, presenting or walking around the city. Some of the names you may be familiar with are Emma Stone, Kristen Stewart, Adele, John Mayer, Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron! These people are A-lister’s and are in the public eye every day, no matter what they’re doing. It is possible to live with anxiety and do amazing things, but it takes strength and mindfulness to know yourself and how you react. Be inspired to share your story!

At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, our clients come to us with a variety of preexisting conditions in addition to their addiction, and we’re here for them every step of the way. Call Visions today to learn more about our addiction recovery and dual diagnosis programs at (866)889-3665.

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Addiction ADHD Adolescence Anxiety Bipolar Disorder Depression Mental Health Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Personality Disorder Recovery Social Anxiety Stress

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Mental illness is a frequent partner of substance abuse and addiction, although the cause-and-effect between the two isn’t always clear. However, the issue is a prevalent one that needs to be considered anytime treatment is sought for substance abuse, because diagnosing both correctly is a key component to a healthy recovery process. There are a number of different types of mental illnesses that are often seen in combination with substance abuse and addiction.

Depression
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses associated with substance abuse. In some cases, substances may be used to mask the symptoms of depression. Other times, substance abuse may bring on the depression symptoms or make them worse. Symptoms of depression might include:

  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Persistent feelings of sadness or guilt
  • Loss of interest in or ability to enjoy activities
  • Diminished energy levels and fatigue
  • Difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Changes to sleep or appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts or ideations

Anxiety
Anxiety disorders are also a frequent problem for those struggling with substance abuse. There are different types of anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety and panic attacks. Substances may be used to lessen the symptoms at first, which often only serves to make the symptoms more intense over time. Symptoms of these conditions might include:

  • Feelings of restlessness or nervousness
  • Excessive and ongoing worry and tension
  • Irritability and fearfulness
  • Sweaty palms, racing heart, shortness of breath
  • Headaches, dizziness or nausea

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADHD is a disorder often diagnosed in adolescents and frequently associated with substance abuse. This disorder is characterized by three basic components:

  • Hyperactivity – difficulty sitting still, excessive talking, always seems to be “on the go”
  • Inattention – disorganization, lack of focus, forgetfulness, distraction
  • Impulsivity – impatience, blurting out answers, guessing instead of solving problems

Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a mental disorder characterized by extreme swings of mood and energy levels. During the manic phase, the individual exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Excessive irritability
  • Bursts of energy, requiring little sleep
  • Distracted easily
  • Engage in impulsive, high-risk behaviors

Manic phases are typically followed by depressed states, which may include the following symptoms:

  • Extended periods of sadness or hopelessness
  • Low energy, excessive fatigue
  • Significant changes to appetite and sleep patterns
  • Thoughts and ideations of suicide

When mental illness accompanies a substance abuse disorder, it is imperative to address both disorders simultaneously to give the patient the best odds for a successful recovery. At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, we are experienced in treating both of these conditions at the same time, a situation known as dual diagnosis. Our team of healthcare professionals is equipped to work through both disorders and give our patients the best odds of successful sobriety and improved mental health. To learn more about dual diagnosis or our treatment programs, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665.

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Addiction Anxiety Depression Mental Health Social Anxiety Stress

More College Students Struggle with Mental Illness


The number of college students seeking help for mental illness is on the rise, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. As campuses scramble to provide sufficient services for these students, some students are seeing increases in tuition rates to cover the cost. Despite the spending increases, many schools are still lacking the number of support staff needed based on the size of the campus to handle the students in need. More concerning is the fact that one-third of all schools do not have a psychiatrist on staff at all.

Reports of mental illness on college campuses has been increasing over the last two decades. “The American Freshman” 2014 survey by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute found that in 1994, nine percent of college students were taking a prescription drug for a mental illness. By 2014, that number had increased to 26 percent. Nearly 10 percent of freshmen in 2014 said they felt depressed “frequently,” compared to 6.1 percent in 2009.

Type of Mental Illnesses

The two most common types of mental illnesses seen among college students are anxiety and depression. According to a 2013 report from the American Psychological Association, 41.6 percent of students seeking support for their mental disorder had symptoms of anxiety, while 36.4 percent reported symptoms of depression. Relationship issues, which are commonly associated with the college years, made up 35.8 percent of concerns.

A 2011 National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey found that nearly 30 percent of college students reported feeling “so depressed they were unable to function.” Of that number, 6.6 percent admitted to seriously contemplating suicide at least once during the past year. The American Psychiatric Association found that half of all college students reported feeling overwhelming anxiety during the same time frame.

Mental Illness and Addiction

Addressing mental illness on college campuses is a significant concern, considering many students dealing with mental disorders may also struggle with substance abuse or addiction. According to the Center for College Health and Safety, 20 percent of students that use drugs or alcohol are also likely to experience depression at the same time. Students that use substances are also four times more likely to have a diagnosis of a disruptive behavior disorder. The statistics suggest that addressing mental illness could also have a positive impact on substance use on some campuses.

Substance abuse and addiction are serious problems that are often accompanied by mental illness. At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, we specialize in treating the combination of addiction and mental illness, known as a co-occurring disorder. We can help individuals address both of these issues simultaneously to improve their odds of sobriety and a higher quality of life overall. To learn more about our programs, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665.

Categories
Depression Mental Health Recovery Self-Care Stress

New Study Talks About Stress and Teen Girls

Adolescents experience a lot of stress, more than we may even realize. Stress can come from the natural ups and downs at school because of academic pressure, or via social circles, or from an overwrought family system. For some kids, one thing leads to another, and they find themselves trying to process all of that at the same time. How often are these kids who are struggling in this way, boxed into the at-risk nomenclature? Naming the problem and doing something about it are very different things. Further, if we tell these kids they are at-risk, it evokes a negative connotation. These kids are, in reality, under-served and often ignored.

I teach a yoga class to tweens/teens, and I was warned that one of my new kids was a “problem.” I was told she would be a “nightmare” because she was caught smoking last year, implying that she was also a “bad” kid. I chose not to view her as a problem, or a nightmare, or bad. Instead, I approached her with compassion and kindness and boundaries. I recognized that this kid doesn’t need to be judged; she needs to be seen. She has become one of the most dedicated students in my class. She looks forward to being there. She is kind to her classmates and respectful to me, the teacher. This young lady has allowed herself to be vulnerable enough to allow the process of yoga and conscious breath to disassemble her stress–even if it’s in incremental amounts. The shift has been profound.

A new study talks about teenage girls being more prone to depression when they are exposed to a lot of stress. My class is comprised mostly of girls, most of whom share that they are under stress.  In this recent study, “Jessica Hamilton a doctoral student in the Mood and Cognition Laboratory of Lauren Alloy at Temple University hypothesized that life stressors, especially those related to adolescents’ interpersonal relationships and that adolescents themselves contribute to (such as a fight with a family member or friend), would facilitate these vulnerabilities and, ultimately, increase teens’ risk of depression.”

Researchers examined data from 382 Caucasion and African-American students in an ongoing study. Their findings corroborated Hamilton’s theory, showing increased levels of rumination, depression and emotional vulnerability. Seven months later, when they did follow-up testing, the girls showed higher levels of depressive systems than the boys did. The study also showed that the girls had been faced with more stressors than the boys had. The theory is that if boys and girls faced the same amount of stress, the results of the research would have reflected higher rates in depression regardless of sex.

Stress can be a direct result of consistently not having one’s needs met, feeling disconnected or alone, and from unmitigated change at home: divorce, job loss, violence, poverty, or chronic illness. Additionally, the new independence that comes with the teen years can also be stressful. As much as teens want to individuate, the reality that they have to suddenly do many things themselves can be overwhelming for some.

 

How can we de-stress? Try one or all of these on for size:

1: Time outs are a time in. They are an opportunity for us to reset our minds and bodies.

2: Ask for help.  You don’t have to do this alone.

3: Get some fresh air: go for a walk, or find a way to get outside!

4: Take a media time out: unplug for an hour, and dedicate that time to self-care. If you really want to challenge yourself, turn your phone off for the day!

5: Breathe: 10 deep breaths, extending the exhale each time. Do three or more cycles of this.

6: Say no. No is a complete sentence. Remember this!

Each of these tools encourages an emotional reset. They help turn that fight-or-flight response off and help your body engage its rest-and-digest system. Sometimes, we have to consciously remind our bodies to slow down, but we have to practice. Studies like the one above are a good reminder, a wake-up call, telling us that we have to slow down and process our emotions in a safe, reflective way. Teens need to know they will be ok.

Categories
Anxiety Parenting Recovery Self-Care Stress

Is Your Teen Stressed About Graduation?

It’s time for Graduation!

During graduation time, it’s not uncommon for many teens to fall under great pressure from parents and teachers to exceed in academia or to get accepted into the ideal university. Stress tends to be high at the end of the year, no matter how you spin it. Often times, stress is somaticized (converted into physical symptoms) and it shows up in the form of : stomach aches, headaches, difficulty sleeping, eating more or eating less, and even mood swings.

 

Unfortunately, some kids turn to drugs and alcohol to attempt to quell the anxiety and physical manifestations of their stress, while others may sink into depression. Under stress, our nervous systems go on the fritz, thrusting the body toward a fight/flight/freeze response. If there is no healthy outlet to discharge that stress, it manifests physically.

 

At the end of the year, when graduation looms, there’s a very real potential for an increase alcohol and drug use, anxiety, and depression. We know that adolescent substance abuse tends to rise in the summer months of June and July. According to a report recently released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “approximately 11,000 adolescents use alcohol for the first time, 5,000 try their first cigarette, and 4,500 begin using marijuana” during the months of June and July. But facts aside, what can we, as parents, educators, and mental-health professionals do about it? Can you commit to this:

  • Create safe, open spaces for our kids to talk to us.
  • Create a  safe, open environment to facilitate healthy dialogue.
  • Be present for your kids, emotionally and physically.
  • Take care of your own needs and make sure your history is not spilling onto your kids’ present.

For teens already in recovery, managing that end-of-year stress around graduation is crucial:

  • Use your resources and ask for help from parents, teachers, your sponsor, mentor, or another safe adult.
  • Create prioritized lists, checking things off as you go.
  • Create a schedule.
  • Make time for self-care. Healthy physical activity is great for getting the endorphins going, a bubble bath is self-soothing, yoga or meditation will help you get grounded and settle in.
  • Take breaks. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take short 10-minute breaks every half hour and stretch, get up, walk around. You’ll notice an increase in your productivity.
  • Hang a picture of something or someone that inspires you near your workspace.

Try and remember that graduation is something to celebrate. It’s a wonderful accomplishment and something you’ve been working toward since childhood. All of the scraped knees, tears, trophies, reports, dissections and memorization got you to this place. Celebrate it healthfully!