What’s Driving the Teenage Anxiety Epidemic? A Disturbing Report for Parents

Teenage years are often associated with being misunderstood, doubting oneself, and anxiousness.

However, nowadays, as parents, if we are asked about the mental health of our teens, a lot of us will agree that there is a change from several years ago: anxiety in teenagers has reached a new high.

Even though anxiety is considered to be a normal response to stress, especially in teenager years, sometimes, the struggles that our teens are going through may indicate a more serious anxiety disorder.

So, what could we as parents do for our young ones? How can we recognize anxiousness in our teens?

What are the major reasons for the epidemic-like levels of teen anxiety?
How can we help our young ones lead a healthy and happy life?

In this report, you will find answers to these all-important questions and learn more about this serious medical condition that is more common than ever before.

Anxiety Disorder Explained

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, occasional anxiety is normal regardless of age; however, the problem arises when it becomes chronic, uncontrollable, and stressful.

Anxiety, to describe it in a few words, is an unexplained fear of daily situations which can be debilitating.

It is considered chronic when it begins to interfere with a person’s day-to-day life and activities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), on a global level, one in thirteen people has anxiety and this is the most common mental health issue in the world.

When it comes to our youth, anxiety is the leading mental health issue among them and the number of teens suffering from it continues to rise.

Moreover, statistics from the NIH point out that almost 1/3 of adolescents between the age of 13 and 18 will struggle with an anxiety disorder during their life with the risk among girls being much higher than that of boys (38 % vs. 26.1%).

Anxiety disorder is an umbrella term which encompasses several disorders that include excessive worrying and dread. Here are the major ones:

• Social anxiety disorder
• Generalized anxiety disorder
• Agoraphobia
• Panic disorders and panic attacks
• Separation anxiety
• Selective mutism
• Phobias

Why Do Young People Have a Higher Risk of Anxiety?

The risk of ongoing negative stress and anxiety in teens is higher because of the different way in which their brains deal with fear.

Young people do not have the proficiency as we adults have, in making a clear distinction between safety and danger.

This difference, which has been scientifically discovered, may be an explanation to why our teens deal with such prevalent worries and seem to be more vulnerable to issues associated with stress.

As adults, we also deal with a lot of stress; however, we develop a capacity to make more reasonable decisions and judgments; and, we are able to make a distinction between real and fake threats.

With this in mind, it is our role as parents and adults to help our teens if we notice that they are struggling.
The best way to do this and ensure a positive outcome is to know the potential triggers for anxiety in teens and work on minimizing their negative influence as much as possible.

“Anxiety and depression are treatable health problems; however, 80% of children with a diagnosable anxiety and 60 % with diagnosable depression are not getting the needed treatment” – Anxiety and Depression Association of America

The 3 Major Triggers for Teenage Anxiety Epidemic

1. High expectations

The average teen these days struggles with stress and anxiety because of setting high expectations.

Whether they have to do with school, career or social life, teens want it all and they want it now. From trying to keep up an active social life while doing great in school and extracurricular activities, their time for relaxation, sleep, and self-care is scarce.

Moreover, parents may also contribute to teen anxiety if they have unreal aspirations for their children. As parents, it is necessary to establish more fundamental standards that will not be counterproductive as the unrealistic ones can be.

Teach your teen that he/she should do what they are capable of, appreciate what they have, and that they are enough. Be honest about the child you have and be there to “push” him/her when you think he/she can do more or better.

But, when you know that they are not ready for something, let it go. No one is perfect and both you and your young ones should know that; otherwise, the tendency to reach perfection may only prevent them from achieving important goals in life.

2. Peer influence

Today’s teens want to be respected by their friends and we want the same for them. However, they often deal with peer pressure, i.e. choosing to do something they would not otherwise do or behave in a different way than they usually do.