Anxiety is a normal part of teen development that I see in my NYC therapy practice. Between college admission, SAT/ACT prep, stressors of social dynamics in and outside of high school, the first semesters of college and just being a teen, is it any wonder teens are anxious? This is all normal anxiety and this means you can take it on in a mostly self-constructed way. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) solutions aren’t only found in Home Depot, but can also help develop creative and concrete life skills that manage anxiety and let teens know they can build it themselves.
Everything is still so new when you are a teen. Adults tend to forget that while teens start to look and think more like adults, their brains are still rapidly developing, as are their emotions. They are being asked to do a lot of new things at once. It is normal to be anxious about getting a summer job, talking to college recruiters, taking on more household responsibilities, having romantic relationships and managing their own autonomy in relationships with friends, parents, teachers and mentors. This can all be anxiety-producing.
Normal anxiety is trying something new. It is talking with a new friend and feeling a little awkward, wondering if they too are enjoying hanging out. It is going on a first date or hanging out with someone you like. It is having a little trouble sleeping before the SAT or ACT. It is working on and sending off the college application. Abnormal anxiety is shaking when going into your school, not sleeping for days before a big exam, not eating for a few because your stomach just can’t settle, or feeling like you have to pace all the time because you can’t sit or are having panic attacks. What we are talking about here is the normal anxiety that every teen experiences, but that can get overwhelming because it’s all new and challenging.