“An estimated 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness,” (ymhc.ngo).
Anxiety is very common in teenagers. Teenagers have many struggles that can be difficult to find proper solutions for. This can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, etc.
Internationally, around 1 in 3 adolescents experience an anxiety disorder (healthychildren.org). In Canada alone, approximately 3% of youth experience anxiety (cmha.ca).
Anxiety is most common to start occurring in the teenage years. This is because of all the stresses that are put on teenagers.
According to an online journal by Caroline Miller titled, How Anxiety Affects Teenagers, being anxious as a teenager is much different from anxiousness in younger children. The reasoning behind this is because younger children typically have fears such as fear of darkness, fear of monsters, etc.
Teenagers have more complex or elaborate fears such as worrying about themselves (their looks, their physical appeal, how well they do in something like school or sports, going through puberty before or after their friends, how others depict them as, etc.)
There are many common triggers of anxiety in teenagers. Every teenager is different; resulting in different causes and/or triggers of their mental illness. According to research, the most common triggers of anxiety in youth are school-related stress, social media and/or activity, perfectionism, and more.
1. School Stress
The most common trigger of anxiety in teenagers is school stress. Many students are stressed out at school because of high expectations from teachers or parents, peer pressure, schoolwork, and more. They may be overwhelmed with homework or overdue assignments, or maybe they are striving to succeed, which puts more pressure on them.
2. Social Media
Another common trigger of anxiety in teenagers is social media. Social media is a significant cause of anxiety; because teenagers are connected to it in many different ways. These may include connecting with friends, posting on media platforms, etc. Social media can be cruel and harsh which can result in lower self-esteem. Comments on posts, for example, can be overwhelming on teenagers because they may be negative and lead to cyber-bullying.
3. Social Activity
Social activity is a common trigger of anxiety in teenagers. Many teenagers prefer not to share or express their feelings. Socializing with friends, classmates, or acquaintances can lead to anxiety. Many teenagers are anti-social or get overwhelmed by conversing with others. This can lead to anxiety or stress.
Perfectionism is a very common trigger of anxiety in teenagers. Many teenagers worry about not doing well in a school project or not winning a sports game. They strive to succeed, which puts a lot of weight on their shoulders.
Other common triggers or causes of anxiety include hormonal change, bullying, brain development, parental disapproval (family conflicts), depression, and intoxicating oneself with alcohol and/or drugs (paradigmtreatment.com)
As mentioned previously, anxiety is very common to start in the teenage years. Many teenagers who have started to experience anxiety from certain causes may often be triggered by going to parties/sleepovers, going to camp or away from family, etc.
These triggers are based on research and the most common found in teenagers; however, everybody reacts differently to anxiety, and everybody has different triggers for it.
Anxiety comes in many different forms, some more serious than others. Anxiety is not to be taken lightly; it can lead to more serious problems such as panic attacks, depression, and/or social anxiety.
Some symptoms of anxiety or mental illness in teenagers are as follows:
- Constant fears and/or worries regarding everyday routines. - Regular irritability daily. - Consistent trouble concentrating. - Avoids social activity and/or engagement. - Sensitive to criticism and/or is self-conscious. - Frequent stomachaches and headaches.
You may be worried about what to do about your anxiety. There are many ways to help reduce or prevent anxiety. A lot of these helpful tips require daily work and are not always easy. It takes time to comprehend the effect, and then you can really start to notice the reduction of your anxiety or stress levels. Remember, these tips do not work for everyone, so just try to find certain things that help calm you down; things you love to do (reading, going on a walk, etc.).
How to reduce mental illness and/or anxiety:
1. Stay positive - being positive only radiates positivity to others, including yourself. Being happy enlightens the environment, releasing stress you may be experiencing.
2. Eat healthy and regularly - making sure that you replenish your hunger is very important. For teenagers especially, eating 3 meals a day is important and helps ease anxiety. Eating healthy foods for meals instead of junk food is significant to both your physical and mental health.
3. Stay on routine sleep schedule - a lot of teenagers do not get enough sleep, which may result in tiredness, stress, and anxiety (caringforkids.cps.ca). According to Caring For Kids, teenagers should get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep every night.
4. Be active and exercise frequently.
5. Do things that you enjoy - Being happy by doing things you love helps reduce and soothe anxiety and stress. You can be playing a sport you love, watching your favourite show, going on a hike, playing with your dog, reading a book. Whatever you love to do that distracts you from the stresses around you will help ease your anxiety.
6. Go outside often - Being outside in the sun (getting vitamin D) is very good for both your mental and physical health.
7. Be sociable - Connecting with friends or family in person is very good for helping ease anxiety.
8. Talk to others - Talking to others (family, friends, loved ones, counselor, etc.) helps calm your mind because you can let others help you.
9. Complete anxiety reduction exercises such as creating steady rhythm of breathing, meditation, creating a worry jar, etc.
(List from peoplefirstinfo.org.uk)
References: “10 Top Tips for Good Mental Health.” 10 Top Tips for Good Mental Health - People First, https://www.peoplefirstinfo.org.uk/health-and-well-being/mental-health/10-top-tips-for-good-mental-health/. “About 1 in 10 Young People Experienced Depression at Some Point, StatsCan Says | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 19 Jan. 2017, https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/depression-suicidal-thoughts-1.3940621#:~:text=Health-,11%25%20of%20Canadians%20aged%2015%2D24%20met%20criteria%20for%20depression,year%2C%20according%20to%20Statistics%20Canada. “Anxiety Symptoms Checklist [Teen] [F].” Mylemarks, https://www.mylemarks.com/store/p443/Anxiety_Symptoms_Checklist_%5BTeen%5D_%5BF%5D.html. “Children, Youth and Anxiety.” CMHA National, 13 Aug. 2021, https://cmha.ca/brochure/children-youth-and-anxiety/#:~:text=About%203%25%20of%20Canadian%20children,more%20anxious%20than%20most%20adults. “Common Causes of Anxiety in Teens and Young Adults.” Paradigm Treatment, 6 Mar. 2021, https://paradigmtreatment.com/anxiety-teens-young-adults/common-causes/. Kamis, Christina. “The Long-Term Impact of Parental Mental Health on Children's Distress Trajectories in Adulthood - Christina Kamis, 2021.” SAGE Journals, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2156869320912520. McCarthy, Claire. “Anxiety in Teens Is Rising: What's Going on?” HealthyChildren.org, 21 Nov. 2019, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/Pages/Anxiety-Disorders.aspx. Miller, Caroline. “How Anxiety Affects Teenagers.” Child Mind Institute, 19 Aug. 2021, https://childmind.org/article/signs-of-anxiety-in-teenagers/. Miller, Caroline. “How Anxiety Affects Teenagers.” Child Mind Institute, 19 Aug. 2021, https://childmind.org/article/signs-of-anxiety-in-teenagers/. “Teens and Sleep: Why You Need It and How to Get Enough.” Caring for Kids, May 2018, https://caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/healthy-living/teens_and_sleep#:~:text=Scientific%20research%20shows%20that%20many,hours%20of%20sleep%20every%20day. “Youth Mental Health Stats in Canada.” Youth Mental Health Canada, 28 Sept. 2020, https://ymhc.ngo/resources/ymh-stats/#:~:text=An%20estimated%201.2%20million%20children,cent%20will%20receive%20appropriate%20treatment.