Allison Dea has been with BetterHelp since January 2017. She is currently the Support Team Lead, and enjoys helping the members and counselors on the platform with any questions or feedback they may have. In her previous life, she was an educator in college campus settings, and believes we are all in “beta mode” looking to improve every day. At the end of the day, she enjoys taking a yoga class, going home and cooking dinner, while pondering ways to become the next Food Network star.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions in the United States. In fact, over 40 million people are affected by anxiety disorders at least once in their life. However, it affects females twice as much as males. While anxiety disorders can affect anyone at any age, girls between 10 and 18 years old are especially susceptible for some reason. Experts believe it may have something to do with the hormonal changes in a girl’s body that are going on at this time.
Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are several types of anxiety disorders that can affect your daughter. Some of these include separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Separation anxiety disorder (SAD) may be a problem if your child is worrying excessively that something bad will happen to you or her if you are not together. This may be evident by avoiding sleepovers, going to school, or having you leave the house for work, errands, or any other reason. She may even get physically ill with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, and sleeplessness.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Although it is normal for your daughter to worry about what others think about her, it is not good when she is so consumed by fear that she avoids people and places. She may stop talking or texting on the phone, avoid her friends, refuse to talk in class, or may even stop going to public places with you or the rest of the family.
This is a very scary situation that will scare both you and her. It can happen out of the blue for reasons unknown to you or her. All of a sudden, she may start to cry or shake, be unable to catch her breath, become dizzy or nauseous. If you have ever had a panic attack, you know how terrifying this can be for an adult, let alone for a child.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
If your daughter is having trouble controlling her anxiety and worrying about more than one issue such as the future, her health, and the world in general, this is generalized anxiety disorder. This can be debilitating, cause insomnia, appetite loss, depression, and she may spend more time playing video games or watching television rather than hanging out with others.
The Good News
Well, the good news is that these disorders are very treatable. You have to get her to talk to someone. Talking to you about her feelings of anxiety is a great place to start but she needs to see a professional if these feelings are causing her enough anxiety to disrupt her sleep, school, and relationships. There are steps you can take to try to help her though.
Validate Her Anxiety
First of all, you need to validate her feelings. Make sure she knows that you understand and that you believe what she is feeling is real. Do not just say “everything will be okay” and expect her to quit worrying because that is not going to happen. When someone tells you not to worry, does that make you stop worrying?
Help Her Figure It Out
Teach her to think about what she feels as if it is a visible thing. Have her think of her feelings like they are little annoying critters that she can see and tell to go away. Have her think about them logically and realize that her worries may not be as bad as they seem.
Tell Her About Your Own Worries
Let her know that anxiety is a common feeling and that everyone worries sometimes. Tell her some of the things that worry you sometimes. However, keep them simple and short so you do not make her worry about your worries too.
Have Her Talk to Someone
The best way for her to work this out is to talk to someone who is trained to deal with anxiety disorders. You are her parent but even if you happen to be a licensed therapist, you should leave it to a nonbiased professional. Your daughter will take it more serious if she hears it from a therapist rather than her own mom, even if you are a therapist! There are plenty of great professionals available to help your daughter and this will help you as well.