Why So Many Teens Suffer From Anxiety and How They Can Learn to Cope
Anxiety is becoming a common problem for teenagers.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that a whopping 25.1% of 13-18 year-olds are prone to developing anxiety in their lifetimes.
Why do so many teenagers struggle with anxiety and are there solutions for coping?
Why Teens Struggle with Anxiety
Being a teenager is stressful, and there are many reasons a teen can feel anxious. For example:
- Not having friends or social experiences
- Comparing themselves to other teens
- Experiencing pressure, either by themselves or from parents, to be academically successful
- Not having a safe home environment
- Living in poverty or dealing with foods insecurity
- Being bullied at school
Certainly, these are not new phenomena. Are there other factors present that could be influencing why teens are anxious?
The Connection Between Teens, Anxiety, and Smartphones
One researcher has been studying the relationship between teens and smartphones.
Dr. Jean Twenge of San Diego State University noticed in her research a sharp rise in the numbers of teens being diagnosed with anxiety occurring from 2011 onward. What she found was that since 2011 there has been a reported higher use of smartphones among teens.
These, together with social media, make a dangerous combination that can easily create anxiety.
The Influence of Social Media on Teens
On social media platforms, it is easy to compare oneself to others. All teens can see is how others seem to be having great lives with no problems. In comparison, they feel something is missing in their lives. They feel empty. That’s why some teens ask, “What’s wrong with me?”
Cyber-bullying is another problem that many teens now experience online as well. On the flip side, social media and smartphones make for a convenient and easy escape from whatever problems teens are experiencing in the “real world.” Not that this is necessarily healthy.
How Can Teens Learn to Cope with Anxiety?
There are several ways that teens can cope with anxiety. For example:
- Sleep: Most teens only get about 7 hours of sleep each night when they should really be getting around 9 hours of sleep. When we are not rested it is harder to adequately deal with stress and be functional.
- Exercise: Research shows that physical exercise is invaluable when it comes to mental health. Encouraging teen to be active through sports, outdoor recreation, or even just walking is important
- Social Connections: It’s important for all humans, not just teen, to feel accepted by others. Participation in clubs or other special-interest groups can help them to find connections with their peers and create friendships.
- Use Technology Responsibly: We can’t escape the fact that technology, including social media, has become woven into the fabric of our society. That’s why it is important to teach (and role model) teens responsible when using technology.
- Communication: Encouraging meaningful conversations and allowing teens to express their feelings is so vital. Often in our society teens learn that they shouldn’t talk about their feelings. Yet, many times, this becomes the source of anxiety later down the road.
- Stress Management: Helping teens to learn how to effectively manage stress so that it does not become overwhelming is not as hard as it may seem. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises are all great ideas
Normalize Anxiety with Support
Letting teens know that they are not alone can do so much for them. Everyone experiences anxiety from time-to-time throughout their lives. They are not “different” or “weird” because they have those feelings. Rather, they have a condition for which there are many solutions.
If you have tried helping, but your teen is still struggling, then it is a good idea to consider professional counseling. Remember that most teens experience some level of anxiety during childhood. Yet, for those for whom it becomes a serious problem, there are real solutions available that can help them learn how to cope with anxiety.
In the end, there is no singular cause for depression. There are many ways that it can develop whether it’s your biology, your life experiences, or the choices you make in your daily life. However, there is a lot that is still in your control to ensure that depression does not overrun your life.