Anxiety #2 of 6

The symptoms of anxiety disorders in adolescents will vary according to length of illness, presence of support system, and type of anxiety disorder.  Symptoms of an anxiety disorder may come on gradually and linger, or they may come about suddenly.  Rarely will one person display all these symptoms.  And all of these could be symptoms of something else (for example, running a sprint).  However, when a variety of these signs appear severe, long lasting and interferes with a person’s life an anxiety disorder could exist.

Physical

  • ~Pounding heart, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, and blushing
  • ~Rapid, shallow breathing, and shortness of breath
  • ~Dizziness, headache, sweating, tingling, and numbness
  • ~Choking, dry mouth, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • ~Muscle aches and pains (especially neck, shoulders, and back), restlessness, tremors, and shaking

Psychological

  • ~Unrealistic or excessive fear and worry (about past and future events)
  • ~Racing thoughts or mind going blank
  • ~Decreased concentration and memory
  • ~Indecisiveness
  • ~Irritability
  • ~Impatience
  • ~Anger
  • ~Confusion
  • ~Feeling on edge
  • ~Nervousness
  • ~Sleep disturbance
  • ~Vivid dreams

Behavioral

  • ~Avoidance of situations
  • ~Obsessive or compulsive behavior
  • ~Distress in social situations
  • ~Phobic behavior
  • ~Increased use of alcohol or other drugs

What this might look like at home, young people may

  • ~Complain of headaches and other physical problems to avoid going to school
  • ~Be tearful in the morning, saying they do not want to go to school
  • ~Spend more time doing homework or express unnecessary concerns that the work is not good enough
  • ~Demand constant reassurance from parents
  • ~Be touchy and irritable in interactions with family
  • ~Spend a long time getting ready for social occasion, worrying about their appearance or what they might do, or decide at the last minute not to attend the social occasion

At school, young people may

  • ~Be extremely well behaved and quiet, fearful of asking questions
  • ~Demand extra time from teachers, asking questions constantly and needing a great deal of reassurance
  • ~Not hand in assignments on time because the work is seen as less than perfect
  • ~Complain of sudden, unexplained physical illness, such as a stomachache or headache, when exams or presentations have been scheduled

In a social setting, young people may

  • ~Avoid meeting new people or socializing with groups, spending time with only a few safe friends
  • ~Use alcohol or other drugs at parties to make it easier to talk to people
  • ~Leave social events early
  • ~Avoid speaking up for fear of embarrassment

Source:  Mental Health First Aid USA 2016 National Council for Behavioral Health

WebMD has a brief quiz to help you know if what you’re feeling is natural anxiety or at a level that professional support might be helpful.  What’s Worrying You? The Facts About Anxiety

The Quarky app is supported by North Kansas City Hospital and The Anxiety Center at Renew and available for Apple and Android devices.  The Anxiety Center is opening the 2tents IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) for adolescents struggling with anxiety in the fall of 2018.]]>

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