Anxiety disorder is a common condition among children, teens and young adults, and if severe enough, it can interfere with everyday routines, such as school, work and home. Because there are many myths surrounding anxiety disorders in teens, parents and teachers need to be more aware of the condition in order to separate fact from fiction. Anxiety myths can interfere with a parent’s honest assessment of their teen’s behavior.
Myth #1. Teens can’t develop anxiety—they are simply moody and rebellious.
Teen anxiety disorders are very real and experts worry that most go on undiagnosed and untreated. Because of the stigma attached to mental illnesses of all kinds, teens are often not diagnosed for anxiety, and parents operate under the assumption that if something is amiss with their teen, it’s just typical adolescent moodiness. By learning to recognize the symptoms of anxiety disorder, parents can be better equipped to get help for their teen.
Myth 2. Only kids from bad homes develop anxiety disorders.
Any teen can develop anxiety, regardless of intelligence, background, race, sex or past experiences. While teens with more trauma and stress in the home are at a greater risk of developing anxiety disorders, the condition is also frequently found in high achieving teens from stable homes. Parents who ignore their teen’s anxiety symptoms often do so because they believe the myth that mental illness can only happen within a certain class or condition when in reality, anxiety can affect any teen and any time.
Myth #3. Teens can overcome anxiety on their own.
Anxiety itself is common in teenagers, who deal with a lot of stress, and many times it is simply a stage that they can work through. However, when mere anxiety evolves into a disorder, professional help is required. Teens are resilient but proud and often won’t share that they are struggling, leaving them confused, embarrassed and unwilling to ask for the help they need to get back on track. Between medication and therapy, teens with anxiety disorders can lead full, successful lives. If left untreated, anxiety disorders in teens can lead to depression, substance abuse and failure in school and work.
Myth #4. Anxiety looks the same in all teen boys and girls.
Anxiety disorders symptoms are often quite different between the sexes and even from person to person. Girls tend to experience more stress as adolescents and consequently are more likely to develop anxiety symptoms. Anxiety also manifests in a range of ways, from general anxiety to social anxiety to obsessive compulsive disorders. Symptoms of these conditions and more can vary widely, so parents should become familiar with general symptoms, then enlist the help of professionals for an official diagnosis.
Myth #5. Teens can’t take medication for anxiety disorders.
Many people are under the impression that medications for mental health issues like anxiety disorders are not as effective on children and teens. However, studies show that there are several medications that therapists and physicians can prescribe that are effective in restoring the teenage body’s imbalances that contribute to anxiety disorders. When combined with therapy, medication is an effective solution to restoring a teenager’s well-being and ability to cope with everyday stress.
There are plenty of online resources that parents and teens can use to get more information about anxiety disorders, especially how they manifest in teens and what some of the generalized symptoms are. The better acquainted parents are to the actual symptoms of anxiety disorder rather than the false perceptions or assumptions of the condition, the more likely that struggling teens will be able to get the professional intervention they need to get their lives back on track.