by Dr. Lindsay Kramer, psychotherapist and staff writer at The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles
To begin, if you are a teenager reading this, I commend you. That means that you have enough initiative and curiosity to google terms such as “social anxiety” or “social phobia.” It also probably means that you are anxious and preoccupied with how you appear in social situations or what others think of you. I am hypothesizing that, to some degree, you are struggling to understand who you are, and it can be exhausting when others around you are experiencing the exact same thing. Sure, the easiest solution would be to “fit in” or at the very least, to not stand out. But this often leads us to a very lonely and very scary place.
Now, if you are a former teenager and have graduated from adolescence, I want you to think back to those years…what was it like? What sort of feelings came up for you? How did you survive the world of hormonal imbalances, first loves, “frenemies,” acne, controlling parents, and gossip? How did you balance a social life with academics and preparing for what comes after high school? I am guessing it was not easy, and at some point, the world felt uncertain and shaky. Adolescence is a very difficult period and one that must be approached with empathy and awareness. Social anxiety disorders are very common in teenagers and can be easily overlooked or misinterpreted as just being a “teenager.”
So what can one look for when figuring out if you or your teenager struggles with social anxiety?
Here is an extensive and detailed list of symptoms of social anxiety disorder for teenagers:
-Consistent or ongoing fear of situations and interactions involving new people.
-Heightened anxiety in peer interactions and settings.
-Frequent fear of social or performance situations, in which the teenager worries about acting in embarrassing or unacceptable ways.
-Panic attacks or anxiety attacks when thinking about or engaging in social interactions. These attacks include intense anxiety and are often accompanied with heart palpitations, chest pain, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, nausea, trembling, numbness, sweating, and dizziness.
-Avoidance of social situations, such that the teenager isolates, makes excuses, or refuses to engage in social encounters.
-Heightened distress in routine social situations, such as participating in class, starting or maintaining a conversation, or going to a party.
-Hesitance to participate in normal outings or activities, such that the teenager no longer wants to be involved in extracurricular activities, sports, or clubs due to social anxiety.
-Difficulty transitioning from home to school, in that the teenager resists going to school, becomes truant, or has a high number of unexcused absences.
-Difficulty paying attention or concentrating during class, due to a persistent worry of having to participate in discussions or of saying the “wrong thing” and being embarrassed.
It can be challenging to distinguish normal teenage angst from social anxiety disorder. In fact, a lot of teenagers struggling with social anxiety fail to receive proper treatment due to their symptoms being dismissed or attributed to adolescence. Cognitive behavioral therapy with a trained mental health professional can help the teenager learn new skills to reduce anxiety and distress in social situations. The mental health clinicians at The April Center for Anxiety Attack Management have been helping teenagers overcome social anxiety symptoms for many years. I strongly encourage you to reach out, make contact, and begin to take steps toward a happy and healthy life.
All the best,
from The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles
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This post first appeared on The April Center Blog: Anxiety, OCD, Phobia And Pa, please read the originial post: here