Middle school can be an anxiety provoking time. Among children 13 to 18, anxiety (31.9%) is the most common mental health disorder. Moreover, 7.1 percent of children ages 3 to 17 currently suffer from an anxiety problem. CBT SoCal’s Dr. Julissa Cortes and her colleague Dr. Jade Starleaf recently provided a presentation to 8th grade students titled, “Anxiety: Learning how to manage unhelpful worries.” Dr. Cortes is a child, adolescent, and family therapist, who is available to provide psychotherapy in either English or Spanish.
Is your anxiety helpful?
Dr. Cortes pointed out that it is normal to feel anxious sometimes. In fact, anxiety can be helpful. For example, a middle school student worried about an upcoming test can channel their anxiety into motivation for increased studying. If a middle school athlete has anxiety about an upcoming game, they can ease their anxiety and boost their confidence by putting more time and energy into practicing their sport.
When is anxiety unhelpful?
When a teenager feels anxiety their body goes into fight or flight mode, which involves rapid heart rate, the release of adrenaline, and rapid breathing. The physiological response is helpful when there is a danger that the teenager needs to respond to by running away. However, fight or flight is unhelpful when a teenager needs to study for an exam or give a class presentation. Anxiety can lead to difficulty concentrating and sleeping. Anxiety can affect a teenagers grades, relationships, and ability to achieve goals.
How can you manage anxiety?
Dr. Cortes taught the middle school students a variety of strategies for managing anxiety such as labeling and expressing emotions, recognizing and challenging unhelpful thinking styles, and deep breathing. For example, Dr. Cortes demonstrated how to breathe from the diaphragm while inhaling for 4 seconds and exhaling for 4 seconds in order to induce relaxation.
What if you need more help?
There are many strategies that teenagers can use on their own to help reduce and manage anxiety. However, adolescence is a stressful time and even though most resilient teen might need the help of a trained mental health professional. If you are a teenager or a parent, and you would like to know more about how CBT can help, contact us for a free phone consultation.