Elsevier

English (United States)

May.19.2020

Elsevier Patient Education

 Managing Anxiety, Teen

Managing Anxiety, Teen

After being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you may be relieved to know why you have felt or behaved a certain way. You may also feel overwhelmed about the treatment ahead and what it will mean for your life. With care and support, you can manage this condition and recover from it.

How to manage lifestyle changes

Managing stress and anxiety

Stress is your body's reaction to life changes and events, both good and bad. When you are faced with something exciting or potentially dangerous, your body responds by preparing to fight or run away. This response, called the fight-or-flight response, is a normal response to stress. When your brain starts this response, it tells your body to move the blood faster and to prepare for the demands of the expected challenge. When this happens, you may experience:
  • A faster heart rate than usual.
  • Blood flowing to the large muscles.
  • A feeling of tension and focus.
Stress can last a few hours but usually goes away after the triggering event ends. If the effects last a long time, or if you are worrying a lot about things you cannot control, it is likely that your stress has led to anxiety. Although stress can play a major role in anxiety, it is not the same as anxiety. Anxiety is more complicated to manage and often requires special forms of treatment. Stress does play a part in causing anxiety, and thus it is important to learn how to manage your stress more effectively.
Talk with your health care provider or a counselor to learn more about reducing anxiety and stress. He or she may suggest some ways to lower tension (tension reduction techniques), such as:
  • Music therapy. This can include creating or listening to music that you enjoy and that inspires you.
  • Mindfulness-based meditation. This involves being aware of your normal breaths while not trying to control your breathing. It can be done while sitting or walking.
  • Deep breathing. To do this, expand your stomach and inhale slowly through your nose. Hold your breath for 3–5 seconds. Then exhale slowly, letting your stomach muscles relax.
  • Self-talk. This involves identifying thought patterns that lead to anxiety reactions and changing those patterns.
  • Muscle relaxation. This involves tensing muscles and then relaxing them.
  • Visual imagery. This involves mental imagery to relax.
  • Yoga. Through yoga poses, you can lower tension and promote relaxation.
Choose a tension reduction technique that suits your lifestyle and personality. Techniques to reduce anxiety and tension take time and practice. Set aside 5–15 minutes a day to do them. Therapists can offer counseling for anxiety and training in these techniques.

Medicines

Medicines can help ease symptoms. Medicines for anxiety include:
  • Anti-anxiety drugs.
  • Antidepressants.
Medicines are often used as a primary treatment for anxiety disorder. Medicines will be prescribed by a health care provider. When used together, medicines, psychotherapy, and tension reduction techniques may be the most effective treatment.

Relationships

Relationships can play a big part in helping you recover. Try to spend more time talking with a trusted friend or family member about your thoughts and feelings. Identify two or three people who you think might help.

How to recognize changes in your anxiety

Everyone responds differently to treatment for anxiety. Recovery from anxiety happens when symptoms decrease and stop interfering with your daily activities at home or work. This may mean that you will start to:
  • Have better concentration and focus.
  • Sleep better.
  • Be less irritable.
  • Have more energy.
  • Have improved memory.
  • Spend far less time each day worrying about things that you cannot control.
It is important to recognize when your condition is getting worse. Contact your health care provider if your symptoms interfere with home, school, or work, and you feel like your condition is not improving.

Follow these instructions at home:

Activity

  • Get enough exercise. Find activities that you enjoy, such as taking a walk, dancing, or playing a sport for fun.
    • Most teens should exercise for at least one hour each day.
    • If you cannot exercise for an hour, at least go outside for a walk.
  • Get the right amount and quality of sleep. Most teens need 8.5–9.5 hours of sleep each night.
  • Find an activity that helps you calm down, such as:
    • Writing in a diary.
    • Drawing or painting.
    • Reading a book.
    • Watching a funny movie.

Lifestyle

  • Spend time with friends.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein. Do not eat a lot of foods that are high in solid fats, added sugars, or salt.
  • Make choices that simplify your life.
  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and certain over-the-counter cold medicines. These may make you feel worse. Ask your pharmacist which medicines to avoid.

General instructions

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Where to find support

If methods for calming yourself are not working, or if your anxiety gets worse, you should get help from a health care provider. Talking with your health care provider or a mental health counselor is not a sign of weakness. Certain types of counseling can be very helpful in treating anxiety.
Talk with your health care provider or counselor about what treatment options are right for you.

Where to find more information

You may find that joining a support group helps you deal with your anxiety. The following sources can help you locate counselors or support groups near you:

Contact a health care provider if you:

  • Have a hard time staying focused or finishing daily tasks.
  • Spend many hours a day feeling worried about everyday life.
  • Become exhausted by worry.
  • Start to have headaches, feel tense, or have nausea.
  • Urinate more than normal.
  • Have diarrhea.

Get help right away if you have:

  • A racing heart and shortness of breath.
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
If you ever feel like you may hurt yourself or others, or have thoughts about taking your own life, get help right away. You can go to your nearest emergency department or call:
  • Your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.).
  • A suicide crisis helpline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. This is open 24 hours a day.

Summary

  • Stress can last just a few hours but usually goes away. When stress leads to anxiety, get help to find the right treatment.
  • Certain techniques can help manage your tension and prevent it from shifting into anxiety.
  • When used together, medicines, psychotherapy, and tension reduction techniques may be the most effective treatment.
  • Contact your health care provider if your symptoms interfere with your daily life and your condition does not improve.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.