Fewer people today will be surprised to hear that suicidal ideation and suicide attempts are at an all-time high among the U.S. teen population. According to the CDC, suicide is the leading cause of death among high school–aged youths (second only to accidents).
To think about the stressors this population has faced over the past few years is unfathomable. Some have indeed weathered the storm and come out beautifully on the other side, but others – even those considered to have had no trouble managing adolescent stress in the past – have not fared nearly as well. Unfortunately, there seems to be no one predisposing factor that might indicate which teens will suffer from depression and anxiety and those who won’t.
If you’re a parent trying to help your teen manage depression or anxiety in Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield, Downers Grove or Bolingbrook (IL), we understand the challenges you might confront. In this discussion, we’ll touch on coping strategies for adolescents, perfectionism in teens, stress management in teens and how you can secure help for your loved one.
Coping Strategies for Teens
Let’s face it – past coping strategies for this age group probably looked slightly different from how they do these days, including in places such as Naperville and Downers Grove.
There are still constructive ways for teens to manage anxiety. Hopping onto social media or playing video games isn’t necessarily among them. With so much cyberbullying and social media maintaining the notion of perfectionism in teens, we’ll often want to be aware of and limit their exposure to that kind of thing.
Thankfully, as a whole, we’re more enlightened than ever about the benefits of coping strategies such as meditation and yoga for managing stress. Your teen is certainly not too young to have a go at either or both of those activities. With things like vaping also at an all-time high, it’s well worth your while to help guide your kids toward positive, healthy coping strategies.
Some other things your teens can do for coping strategies are:
Practicing gratitude. Plenty of research shows that doing things such as writing in a gratitude journal can work wonders for reducing anxiety. Even in the busiest of times, taking the time to help others is also hugely beneficial – perhaps weekly volunteering at a homeless or animal shelter could work.
Going for a quick walk. Sure, it’s the oldest trick in the book, but it is still a meaningful coping strategy for many teens.
Working out. The mental-health benefits of exercise – among any population – have been proven time and time again.
Listening to music and/or dancing. Music and dancing contribute to releasing dopamine, the body’s natural boost for a sense of well-being.
Watching a favorite movie or reading a well-loved book. You may have noticed your teen (and even yourself) gravitating towards familiar things during the pandemic. There’s a good reason: They offer known comfort.
Visualization techniques. Envisioning a “happy place” may sound cliché, but these techniques really work!
Getting organized. It may depend on your teen’s personality, but sometimes getting a room, a desk or any other area organized can have substantial mental-health benefits.
Phoning a friend. No, this isn’t a lifeline on a game show, and we know teens think anything but texting is taboo, but sometimes hearing a loved one’s voice or FaceTiming them can do just the trick.
Perfectionism in Teens
You’ve likely read or heard stories about teens who seemed to have it all – premier athletes such as Madison Holleran, a track star at the University of Pennsylvania before her suicide in 2015. More recently, Stanford soccer player Katie Meyer took her own life despite apparently showing no red flags before doing so. In an interview with TODAY Show, Katie’s mother, Gina Meyer, said:
“There’s so much pressure I think on athletes, right, especially at that high level balancing academics and a high competitive environment….There is anxiety and there is stress to be perfect, to be the best, to be number one.”
As of May 19, 2022, five college athletes had died by suicide. Of course, your teen doesn’t have to be a star athlete to suffer from the constraints of perfectionism. Some kids are more hardwired to be that way, and others fall victim to it during school when they compare themselves to those around them in academics, sports, and, well, anything.
YourTeenMag.com offers the following tips for helping perfectionistic teens:
- Listen to and observe teens carefully
- Encourage your child to be a list maker
- Become a failure role model
- Help your teen find a mentor
- Promote the re-branding of your teen’s goals
That last one is worth highlighting, as many teens become paralyzed by a task because they think they have to do it perfectly instead of realizing that the goal is completing it. And in the end, what’s most critical for parenting teens prone to perfectionism is that these adolescents know that your love and approval are unconditional and that you are always there for them when they need to talk about what’s bothering them.
Stress Management in Teens
It can sometimes be easy for adults/parents to overlook stress in younger populations, but, the truth is that by the time kids reach adolescence, they have plenty to stress about: academic and sports performance, managing social circles, bullying/cyberbullying and much more.
Beyond these universal teen stressors, you can also begin to see more-personal ones, such as the death of loved ones, parents divorcing, illnesses, unsafe living environments, moving or financial issues. Teens in Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook are affected by these types of stressors as adolescents everywhere are. You can provide meaningful support by being open and present for your teen if they express they are stressed. Validate their feelings and help brainstorm strategies for stress management in teens.
It’s essential to recognize the signs of stress in teens, which can include:
- Visible anxiety
- Alcohol and/or drug use
Teens can help manage their stress in the following ways:
- Building a support system of loyal family and friends
- Getting enough sleep
- Avoiding excess caffeine, alcohol and drugs, all of which can exacerbate teen anxiety and depression and, of course, stress
- Learning relaxation techniques
- Gaining greater awareness and control of negative self-talk
The ways parents can help with stress management in teens are:
- Practicing active listening
- Suggesting pulling back on certain activities if they are negatively impacting teens
- Modeling stress-management skills
- Simply being there and making sure your teen knows your support is unwavering
- Recognizing signs of teen depression and going the extra mile to get them the treatment they need
Depression and Anxiety in Teens Support: Contact Us Today
If your child has shown signs of anxiety and depression, we can offer caring and attentive support. We also understand that time can be of the essence in certain situations involving anxiety and depression. To become further informed and speak with a professional therapist for your teen in Naperville, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Plainfield or Downers Grove (IL), contact us at 630-340-8747 or firstname.lastname@example.org today.