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Loosening the Grip of Teen Anxiety

Loosening the Grip of Teen Anxiety


Carefree and happy, adolescents are often perceived as a bunch of “happy-go-lucky” older children. The number of exciting things and opportunities available to them are plentiful. It is around this time when words like friendship, love and romance, fun, pleasure, and aspirations reach a new meaning and importance. This characterizes adolescence as unforgettable in a happy sort of way.  Know, however, that at the end of the spectrum, there lies the “growing pains” that can either “make or break” the spirit of your adolescent child.

Adolescence is not all fun. It can be especially challenging, considering all the changes and adjustments they must go through. This is the time when they start to feel self-conscious, to discover and develop their identity or sense of self, and to establish and affirm their independence. If these aren’t enough to overwhelm them, add to the equation the physical, neural, physiological, emotional, and social changes and pressures. Then, you will understand why they are vulnerable to anxiety or why the “passage” to adulthood can be among the toughest years in your teen’s life.

The challenges, though, need not wash out the many great reasons to have a fun, memorable adolescence. If you can provide them the love, understanding and support they need, the chance to emerge through this stage with success scores higher. All these can be expressed when you bring in the expertise of a qualified professional into their life. Counseling can make a difference in the life of your teen.


Why Are Teens Vulnerable?

The transformation from a child to an adult entails a lot of changes. Their growth hormones will kick in to trigger quick changes in their size and appearance. They will experience physical changes, including the development of their secondary sexual characteristics. Their brains will also develop new neural connections to improve their cognitive processes, deepening their analysis and critical thinking. 

Maturation is not the same for everyone – some teenagers may develop early while others may lag in their development. The shifting levels of hormones and the other physiological changes can trigger acne and weight issues – becoming overweight or underweight. This can bring about intense emotions since adolescence is the time when they are seeking peer acceptance. Scared, they may have the tendency to look and talk like their role models or peers. At worse, they can be driven to do unacceptable things, causing them serious consequences, such as anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm, and poor self-esteem. 

Not fully understanding why they are different and given all the changes and challenges during the transition, their vulnerability to anxiety goes higher. The whole time, it may silently hum in the background like a dark shadow. It has been frequently disregarded, thinking it is a common thing for all teens and that it will be outgrown, like any passing phase. While this may be true for many teenagers, this isn’t so for a good number of them. According to NIMH, “Based on diagnostic interview data from National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), … the lifetime prevalence of any anxiety disorder among U.S. adolescents aged 13-18 is

estimated 31.9% of adolescents.”


The Whys and Wherefores of Anxiety

Your teen’s vulnerability to anxiety is higher if he/she is genetically predisposed to the condition. This means that the anxiety gene “runs in the family.” Research reveals that a youngster’s risk can be increased when a parent has the condition, and even higher when both parents are gripped with anxiety. In addition, having an anxious parent or family members can exacerbate the risk, as they create a stressful environment at home. According to experts, the symptoms can be communicated to the rest of the household and to the vulnerable teens and children, compounding their inherent susceptibility.

If your teen had anxiety issues when they were younger, such as separation anxiety, their risk can likewise be higher. Studies show that childhood anxiety can swamp a child/teen with very many fears and adverse emotions. If your child grew up with those negative feelings because the condition was untreated, it can carry over to their identity and sense of independence, the condition can impact their behavior and decisions, preventing them from successfully achieving their goals.

Undiagnosed and/or untreated, it can have serious effects on your teenage child. It can impact their school attendance and performance. It can result in them avoiding people and certain events, so they miss out on a lot of opportunities, such as enjoying and pursuing their passions and interests. It can contribute to having low self-esteem, weakening their confidence and intensifying their fears and insecurities. Conversely, eager to be accepted and overcome their symptoms, they may also become overly aggressive.  Anxious teens may also be vulnerable or drawn to risky behaviors when they feel unhappy, confused, scared, and do not understand what’s happening.


Watching Out for the Red Flags

Most anxiety signs are nonspecific and difficult to recognize. These are behaviors that are typical to teens or manifestations that are commonly associated with the “fight or flight” response system. There may be no specific triggers either. If they are being secretive and distrustful, they may not tell you what’s making them afraid or worried. Yet, there are common signs and symptoms of teen anxiety to take note of, such as:

  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat and sweating
  • Shallow breathing and shortness of breath
  • Restlessness and shaking
  • Dry mouth, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Insomnia.

There are also many types of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety, specific phobias, panic disorder, social phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Each of these has unique symptoms, leaving the signs much more difficult to recognize. Some of these telltale signs that you cannot dismiss are:

  • Extreme fear or worry about specific situations, or everyday life
  • Saying their mind is racing and they can’t think straight
  • Inability to concentrate or poor memory
  • Avoiding new and difficult situations
  • Avoiding social situations, being socially isolated or extremely shy
  • Always being on edge or nervous
  • Being constantly tired and unable to sleep.

Anxiety may also present itself in other forms. Because anxiety affects both the mind and the body, the condition can manifest itself in terms of physical and medical complaints. Worried about a lot of specific things and fears, they may have difficulty sleeping or eating. It is possible that they may find relief in overeating and/or oversleeping. Anxiety may also contribute to excessive worrying or fears, even when there is no real issue or danger. For these reasons, they may socially withdraw and avoid possible places or events that may put them in a situation that they would rather avoid, which can lead to them missing out on potential opportunities. Preoccupied, anxiety can also negatively affect their self-esteem.


Helping Your Teen Through

Anxiety can be a real threat to a happy and satisfying adolescence as it exacerbates and complicates their growing pains. Instead of becoming a source of wisdom and inspiration, an anxious past can result in their present and future being unhappy and unproductive. To loosen the grip of teen anxiety, it is advantageous if you can promptly recognize the signs and symptoms of the condition. Since recognizing the symptoms can be tough, your best move may be to seek help from the experts – an experienced therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC, on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks.

The right therapist can, not only help you take a more proactive approach as a parent, they can also help your teen overcome their fears. Anxiety can be a stumbling block on their path toward adulthood. To be able to pursue their dreams and have a fun-filled and meaningful adolescent life, it is important that their fears are resolved. Help your teen loosen the grip of anxiety and bounce back from an unnecessary anxiety with the help of a counselor/therapist independently contracted with CCS – Cameron, NC, on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks. Call today!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Tricare Prime, Tricare Select, Extra, Retired, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express


Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay

Credit cards:  


Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Holly Ring, LMFT

Specializes in: (Ages 7+) Adolescents, College Students, Individuals, Couples, and Families, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma (child and adult, TFCBT certified), Relationship Issues, Coping Skills, Adjustment Disorders, Life Transitions, Suicidal Ideation, Self-esteem, OCD, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting Skills, LGBTQ
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

How Do I Set Up my FIRST Appointment?

  • Call: (910) 716-8006 (Fastest way to schedule)
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Carolina Counseling Services - Cameron, NC
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Cameron, NC 28326

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Fayetteville, NC 28311

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