Sunshine pediatrics

Adolescent Stress and Anxiety: What Parents Need To Know

Apr 01, 2024
Adolescent Stress and Anxiety: What Parents Need To Know
Adults aren’t the only ones who struggle with stress and anxiety. In recent years, cases continue to rise among children and teens as well. Learn what you should know as a parent about these common mental health disorders.

Parenting is never easy, especially because kids don’t come with an operating manual. And no two children are ever alike, even within the same household. So how do you know when your child is experiencing a mental health disorder and not just the typical growing pains?

The American Psychological Association reports that 20.5% of young people worldwide struggle with anxiety symptoms. But many don’t get the help they need. This is especially unfortunate because there are highly effective treatments for stress and anxiety disorders — that’s where Dr. Min Jung can help.

At Sunny Hill Pediatrics in Frisco, Texas, Dr. Jung understands that anxiety and depression can develop anytime, including during childhood and adolescence. He also knows it can be tricky for parents to spot the signs of an issue. Here, he offers insights into the mental challenges of the adolescent years — and when it could be more than normal anxiety. 

Teens, stress, and anxiety

No one is a stranger to stress and anxiety. However, these moments are usually temporary states that pass. But around 8% of children and teens develop anxiety disorders — experiences that become severe or long-lasting. 

Unfortunately, it can be challenging to detect an issue because adolescence is also brimming with new challenges and experiences — and changing brains. Add in emotions, and the stressors they face, and your teen is going through a lot.

To further complicate things, every teen is different, and their responses to stress and anxiety are, too. 

Fortunately, as a positive and supportive parent, you can help your growing child understand and cope with stress and anxiety. You can also learn how to recognize when they need additional support.

When anxiety becomes a problem

Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. It is an essential emotion that spurs action — consider it a survival instinct. But there can be too much of a good thing; anxiety becomes problematic when it dominates your child’s thoughts or everyday life. 

Common signs of stress in adolescents include:

  • Restlessness
  • Being on edge
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Nervous stomach
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Fatigue that’s out of proportion with exertion
  • Disrupted sleep patterns, like too much or too little sleep
  • Nightmares or bad dreams
  • Unpredictable behavior
  • Mood changes

It’s also common for adolescents with stress and anxiety to have falling grades, a change in groups of friends with whom they engage, or a lack of interest in sports and hobbies. Some anxious teens may create artificial drama surrounding their emotions. 

Ways to help a child with anxiety

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to help your adolescent. First, while you may feel that their emotions are out of proportion, it’s crucial as a parent to accept and acknowledge your child’s emotions as valid. 

Remember: They’re still growing. Part of the transition to adulthood means learning to allocate emotions and form appropriate responses. During this time, some of their responses can be over the top, while others may seem underwhelmed. 

Next, make their health a priority by encouraging regular, nutritious meals and snacks, a consistent sleep cycle, and plenty of physical activity. Dr. Jung also recommends being available and taking time to talk with your teen daily.

Sometimes, the most important part of parenting is simply being there. Even if they don’t acknowledge or engage with you, your child knows when you’re sincerely there for them. 

Finally, keep in mind that support is available for you. Dr. Jung is a pediatrician with years of experience who works with kids and their parents to create comprehensive care strategies for anxiety disorders. You don’t have to feel helpless or overwhelmed — Dr. Jung can help.

Do you think your adolescent has stress or anxiety? Contact Sunny Hill Pediatrics to find effective coping strategies and a positive way forward. Call 469-530-9860 or click the link to schedule your consultation with us today.