“Teenage anxiety; is it a real thing, or is it just a phase? From my personal experience, it was the former. At the age of 13, I was coping with a lot of stress in my life. My home life was not a healthy one, and my parents fought, argued, and called each other names nearly every day. School was no reprieve as I would face an endless barrage of bullying in the form of name-calling, isolation, and physical violence. Why am I telling you this? Teenagers all over the world encounter similar situations and this often leads to them experiencing a great deal of anxiety. When I was that age, I had few resources from which to learn about what I was feeling and how I could overcome it in a healthy way. This is where we can make a change! We can make a better future for our own children! We must teach our children in a way that allows them to grow into their best selves. Mental health education needs to happen in schools and at home! Teach your children how to love themselves and others! We all could use more positivity! Check out my Facebook Group, YouTube Channel, Instagram, and Amazon book for inspiration and to learn more about my passion for this cause and how you can get involved.” ~ Phil
Is your teen struggling with depression or anxiety? Mental health issues are a major hurdle that many school-aged children are having to overcome today. So many teens are afraid to ask for help, or just don’t know how to. Today we are going to discuss some ways you can help your child cope when they are feeling lost and remind them that you will always have their back.
Notice Warning Signs
As young people grow and develop both mentally and physically, they often experience changes in mood and behavior. This is often just written off as “teens being teens,” but sometimes it is something much more serious that needs your attention. It is important to keep a keen eye out for changes in your child’s mood or behavior that are concerning.
Some warning signs your child may be struggling with depression are:
Low grades (particularly if they are usually high)
Unhealthy eating habits
Tired even after sleeping
Signs of anxiety:
Lack of concentration
Racing or unwanted thoughts
Excessive worry or fear with no explanation
Seek Out Professional Help
If your child is having a difficult time with their mental health and you suspect it is more than what would be considered “normal” it is a good idea to reach out to their pediatrician and discuss the recommended next steps. You can even research mental health professionals on your own such as a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist to further evaluate your child and lead you down the appropriate path. The most crucial thing is that you do not ignore the signs when you notice them. The earlier on these issues are dealt with and your child is given the proper tools to cope, the easier it will be for them to manage their depression or anxiety as they get older.
Be There for Them
This goes without saying, however, parents often get caught up in the emotional struggle of it all and become overwhelmed. It is important to be uplifting but not overbearing. Make sure you aren’t forcing them to act or feel in a certain way but that you are instead supporting them as they are. This will make your child feel more comfortable opening up to you and being honest since they know they will not be criticized for feeling the way they do. Spend quality time with your child and give them your undivided attention when they speak. Make sure to reiterate often that their struggles are valid, and that they should not feel ashamed of how they are feeling.
A Healthy Body = A Healthy Mind
A healthy diet and active life are essential for anyone but especially those who struggle with their mental health. It doesn’t need to be excessive; a simple hike or short jog can go a long way. Any physical activity will give the brain a nice boost, and despite just exerting a lot of energy, your child will feel renewed and motivated. Also, ensuring that your child has plenty of healthy food and is consuming complete and balanced meals as opposed to just snacks is really important. A wholesome meal not only fills the stomach, but it also lifts the spirits and provides plenty of energy to get through a long day. Junk food and candy might provide a short burst, but the crash will come quickly for both your child’s brain and body.
There are so many ways that your child can get involved socially and boost their mental state. Encourage them to join a club, go to a football game after school with friends, plan a sleepover for them, or bring them over to a friend’s house to study. Whichever way you decide to help your child get involved, make sure you are patient with them. Anxiety makes it very difficult to socialize the way everyone else does. It can be very draining to even speak with someone for a few minutes. Remind your child that they can go at their own pace and don’t force them to socialize or go out if they don’t want to. Just let them know that when they wish to, they can be social in a way that is most comfortable for them. Being pushed too far beyond your limits with anxiety or depression could cause a major panic attack or depressive episode. Be gentle with your teen while they go through their emotional highs and lows.
Depression and anxiety are extremely debilitating and really take a toll on the mental state. So many teens are struggling mentally each day and these issues are often written off and go unchecked. Keep your eyes open and trust your gut, you know when your child is going through something difficult. Before you write an issue off as just a “teen thing” you should ask yourself if it might be something more. Talk to your children, and be present with them, so that when it feels as if they have the weight of the world on them as they face these mental health battles, they know that you are there to carry half of the load.
Looking for more resources? Check out this anxiety workbook for teens by Tabatha Chansard, and this book for parents with children who have anxiety by Dr. John Duffy. Another great way to relax and calm the mind is through a ritual, and you can access those here on my website! Stay healthy, stay safe, and always prioritize the mental and physical health of both yourself and your loved ones.