Every second conversation I have with an adult about an adolescent and anxiety is that the adolescents are faking it. This is heartbreaking for teenagers to hear.
What is important to remember is that someone is coming to you telling you that they are struggling. Perhaps the adolescent hasn’t got the words to identify the specifics of the problems and articulate it in a way that makes sense. Infact, this is the way that the teenage brain works. It’s a rapidly growing and developing part of their anatomy. Things often don’t make sense and life can seem very overwhelming. And what an adolescent needs is a safe place to piece it all together and understand it.
A caregiver can offer that space. Or if it triggers something in the caregiver and they cannot offer that, offer the person suffering (because even though the anxiety may not be believed, it is a very real suffering of emotions) a welcoming and safe place to explore what’s going on. Teenagers are great at problem solving if given the environment to do it. This may be counselling, friends, sport, learning how to unwind and relax.
Teenagers today must be held in the highest of esteem. The world they are in is more complex and exhausting than those before them. What they are asking of adults is to raise their level of awareness around emotions. Perhaps a teenager going to an adult for help with anxiety triggers something in the adult that they find difficult. I often hear things like “but I don’t know how to help” (which increases anxiety in the caregiver), so really everyone needs minded while navigating the emotional development.