Mental Health Awareness: Anxiety in Children and Teens

Mental Health Awareness: Anxiety in Children and Teens

By Dr. Kristen Powell

We believe that mental well-being should be taken just as seriously as physical well-being. It is vital, as parents, to take time to care for yourself in order to meet the demands that come with parenting. This includes parents staying in tune to their children’s habits, moods, and patterns to watch for any changes that may signal issues with their mental health.

Anxiety is, unfortunately, very common in children. It can manifest differently depending on your child’s age, developmental stage, and personality. Often in children, we can see excessive worry, avoidance of certain places or situations, and physical symptoms such as abdominal pain or headache. Particularly for older children and teenagers, anxiety can be exacerbated by the exposure to social media and the constant need to compare yourself to others. Social media is also an open conduit for online bullying.

It is important to maintain open communication with your child. Having an open dialogue regarding anxiety, depression, or mood disorders can help to destigmatize mental health. This will make it more likely for your child to reach out for help if needed. I recommended checking in frequently and monitoring for any behavioral changes. Create a family plan regarding the use of social media and technology in the home. By having an agreed upon agreement, you are more likely to avoid issues caused by social media as opposed to reacting after the fact.

I recommended reaching out to your pediatrician if if anxiety and/or depression seems to be interfering with their daily activities or preventing them from participating in school, social activities, or family life.

The AAP has good resources for managing anxiety, as well as a roadmap for forming a social media or technology plan as a family.

If you would like additional reading on this topic, please see below.

Depression in Children and Teens

Social Media and Your Child’s Mental Health: What The Research Shows