Adolescent Stress and Anxiety: What Parents Need to Know

Apr 30, 2023
Adolescent Stress and Anxiety: What Parents Need to Know
While stress and anxiety are a common and shared part of the human experience, these issues can overwhelm an adolescent, leading to some of the negative behaviors associated with the teen years. Here’s what parents need to know.

The wholesale changes that occur in your teen’s mind and body come at a time when social development and life responsibilities also become dominant. Stress and anxiety assert themselves as part of these changes, leading to thought concepts like prioritization, motivation, and risk management. Dealing with these aspects of their emotions is part of the maturation process your children go through in adolescence

Every teen is an individual advancing in the transition toward adulthood, so their responses to stress and anxiety will be their own as well. As a parent who wants to be positive and supportive, helping your teen understand and cope is an important part of your role. 

Our team at Abdow Friendship Pediatrics in Rockville, Maryland, appreciates the importance of your position and we stand by, ready to offer our professional support for both you and your teen. As a parent, you’ll want a refresher about the mental challenges of the adolescent years, so we’ve prepared this primer to position you as a resource for your child. 

How the teen years differ

Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at some point in their lives and, usually, these are temporary states that pass in short order. About 8% of teens develop anxiety disorders, where the experience becomes severe or long-lasting. 

Perhaps because these are new experiences to some teens, stress and anxiety can dominate and interfere with other aspects of your child’s development, like school work or social participation. 

Recognizing when anxiety is a problem

On its own, anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. It’s an emotional response that spurs action, even if it’s just considering one’s situation and triggering thought-based reactions. Anxiety becomes a problem when it dominates your teen’s thoughts. You may see signs and behaviors caused by anxiety, such as: 

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty with focus and concentration
  • Fatigue that’s out of proportion with exertion
  • Headaches
  • Nervous stomach
  • Disrupted sleep patterns including too much or not enough sleep
  • Mood changes
  • Unpredictable behavior

Stress and anxiety can manifest in tangible ways like falling grades, lack of interest in hobbies and sports, or a change in groups of friends with whom they engage. 

How to help your teen

Anxious teens might sometimes seem to create artificial drama surrounding their emotions. It’s important as a parent to accept and acknowledge your child’s emotions as valid even when you feel they’re out of proportion. Part of the teen experience is learning to allocate emotions and form appropriate responses. Sometimes their responses will be over the top, while other times they may seem underwhelmed. 

Attend to their health needs as much as possible, encouraging regular, healthy meals and snacks, a regular sleep cycle, and regular physical activity. Be available and take time to talk with your teen daily. Sometimes, the important part of parenting is being there, even if you aren’t acknowledged or engaged. Your child knows when you’re sincerely there for them. 

We specialize in treating anxiety and depression in teens and children, so if you’re feeling helpless as a parent, contact Abdow Friendship Pediatrics. We can work with you and your teen to find effective strategies to limit the effects of their stress and anxiety. Call or click to schedule your consultation with us today.