anxiety in teens - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-05-2010, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son has always been a little anxious - but not overly so and it did not really interfere with his life.

In April he came down with a bad tummy bug/GERD/???? that he has not shaken and it has left him quite anxious. Long story short, he is worried something is really wrong with him, he worries about eating, and he worries (to a lesser degree I think) about having GERD attacks in the car

Here is the back story:

http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1249774

I do not know what role anxiety plays in all of this. Is his anxiety caused by rational worries (his illness) and will go away when we find out wth is wrong with him, is the anxiety part of the cause, was anxiety kickstarted by the stress of his issues? I just do not know (and do not expect any of you to, lol)

What I would like to hear is your btdt's.

Do you or your teen experience anxiety? What does it look like? What has helped?

Thanks in advance!

Kathy
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:46 PM
 
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I know my DH went through something similar when he was 18 (dumped by girlfriend, lost his job and he hadn't been unemployed a day since the age of 12, was struggling in college, ect.) Anxiety runs in his family (though he has the weakest strain it seems.) It did manifest itself in his stomach and he ended up with a nasty case of ulcerative colitis. His parents knew he was down about events but they didn't know the state of panic he was in. For him, it took medical help to get him over the colitis and then once that was better, he was able to get a new job and start turning things around at school. Outside a short bout of anxiety/depression at 27 (he'd moved to a new job after 8 years and I'd just miscarried,) the anxiety hasn't really reared it's head since.

Who knows how it started with your son but it seems to be getting out of control. Has he seen a doctor about it?

Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are going to see a doctor on Monday.

The things is...I do not know if it is out of control. It might be. However, I am very hesitant to dismiss physical symptoms as "anxiety" when they might have a physical cause....but I do not want to miss the anxiety issues, either! I am having a really hard time figuring out whether he is over anxious or not.

It is a bit of a chicken and egg game - what came first, and what is the real culprit?

In some ways it does not matter, if he is developing anxiety, we need to deal with it. I think it is the degree of anxiety that is the question - and I cannot figure out how much anxiety he has. One for the specialists, I guess, because it is beyond me.
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Old 08-05-2010, 05:08 PM
 
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My son suffers from depression and anxiety. His symptoms started with stomach upset, and escalated into suicidal thoughts - to the point where I had to hospitalize him. I believe that it was triggered by a number of very stressful things we had going on in our lives at the time. Oh, he had just turned 14.

One the one hand, knowing the trigger is helpful, but not necessary. Our stressors are greatly reduced, and J still deals with anxiety, a year and a half later. The depression is better, though we have been reluctant to decrease his meds, so it's hard to know if it's better, or under control.

Getting your son checked for physical causes is certainly called for.

The anxiety about his illness - with the added stress of school starting soon? - is enough to get him into counselling, IMO. I know you asked him about it, but his reluctance may be caused by several things: he might feel that there's a stigma attached to seeing a therapist; he doesn't know what to expect, and can't see how it would help; he doesn't understand the connection between his physical health and his emotional state.

My son has been in therapy (off and on) for 18 months. DH or I attended most of his sessions with him. At first, when asked how he felt about something, his response was "I don't know". Pretty soon he was able to identify, then articulate his feelings. He continues to get better at this.

It also took time for him to trust his therapist enough to tell her what he was really thinking. He doesn't warm up to people quickly. But once he reached that stage, things really started to take off for him.

The nice thing about going with him to therapy is that I could describe an event, tell how I handled it, and get feedback from the professional. I guess I have pretty good instincts, because she usually agreed with what I did. Hearing her say that helped J to trust my instincts as well, which made things easier for us at home (I don't know how may times I said "I'm not a professional, but this is what feels right to me").

He was doing great last winter, than backslid a bit in the spring (more anxiety than depression). But he keeps talking to me and DH, and seeing his therapist when he feels like he needs to (before a potentially stressful event, usually). He has developed some pretty effective tools for controlling his emotions, and making the distinction between what his emotional brain is telling him, and what his logical brain knows.

Hugs, Kathy! I know how hard it is to watch a kid be sick - all you want to do is make it better, and there's not much you can do. I really think you should get your doctor to refer you to a good therapist who works with teens. Whether his anxiety comes from concern about a real physical cause, or the pain comes from anxiety, he needs to find ways to deal with the stress.

PM me if you ever want to talk.

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Old 08-05-2010, 05:43 PM
 
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Quote:
The things is...I do not know if it is out of control. It might be. However, I am very hesitant to dismiss physical symptoms as "anxiety" when they might have a physical cause....
I wasn't suggesting to dismiss it due to anxiety. 4 months of stomach issues and fear of potential stomach issues is outside the norm and thus what I'd call "out of control." The physical ailment needs to be addressed or he will continue to stress about it. It sounds like you are doing that with a doctor visit on Monday. Good luck and hope it all gets figured out.

Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
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Old 08-05-2010, 06:57 PM
 
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I think sometimes a teen boy needs someone they can talk to and confide in and that person cannot be their mother. I think for people prone to worry, having someone to talk out those feelings with is critical. A worrier left alone with their thoughts is only going to worry more. Unexpressed worry can lead to more serious problems but it doesn't always have too.

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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Old 08-06-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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One of my siblings was diagnosed, at 15, with stomach ulcers caused by stress/anxiety. What helped? Therapy/counseling and time/maturity. If I remember correctly, also, an ulcer medication. The sibling is now an adult leading a full, happy life. But, it was definitely a few difficult years. Hopefully you get some options at your upcoming appt. Good luck.
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Old 08-10-2010, 12:41 AM
 
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My 13 year old DS has had depression and anxiety, I think a flashback to his suicide attempt triggered some of his anxiety. He is doing much better with meds and good docs and time to grow up a little, he seems so much more mature than this time last year.

One thing I have been noticing recently is that he doesn't know how to talk about his feelings and/or he doesn't want to talk to me. At the begining of this summer he was struggling because he lost a lot his support at once with school ending and being discharged from his partial hospitalization program. I scheduled more therapy sessions and helped him make contact with his great guidance counselor and he is doing better with some people to talk to.

This makes me think your DS would be hard pressed to be able to separate the physical from the emotional - it probably all seems overwhelming to him.

Married to the love of my life, mom to DS :
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Old 08-10-2010, 11:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for sharing your stories.

We went to the doctors yesterday - she prescribed a better drug for GERD, and agrees that anxiety may be the cause or complicating things. She is getting us a few names and writing a referral (for insurance purposes).

DS has been struggling with deciding whether he wants to go to school. I have been trying not to push - to let him decide in his own time. Now I am wondering if he is simply avoiding deciding, and if this (procrastinating on issues) contributes to stress. Am I enabling by not pushing a bit - or I am respecting his desire to take his time to decide by not pushing? So hard to know!
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
DS has been struggling with deciding whether he wants to go to school. I have been trying not to push - to let him decide in his own time. Now I am wondering if he is simply avoiding deciding, and if this (procrastinating on issues) contributes to stress. Am I enabling by not pushing a bit - or I am respecting his desire to take his time to decide by not pushing? So hard to know!
You know how if you're trying to decide between the red one and the blue one (whatever it is) and someone else decides for you, you suddenly know you want the other one?

Could you provide your son with this structure? You could simply tell him with finality in your voice, "Son, I don't want you to go to school, so I'm going to homeschool you this year..." He might have a telling gut reaction (ha! no pun intended, but there ya go) that makes it clear to him, finally, what he really wants. He might be relieved and think, whew, that's what I really want to do anyway. Or faced with the prospect of not 'getting' to go, he might decide he wants it.

I don't know, I'm just making this up along the way!! I hope your ds gets feeling better.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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Old 08-12-2010, 01:00 AM
 
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Ds is 12 yo and he had some symptoms last year that he totally couldn't handle. It appeared that his ear infections were, to him and his friends, a sure sign that he had a brain tumour and that his head was about to explode. He had swimmers' ear, which is a big pain in the ear, but hardly fatal.

It seems a bit humorous, but it isn't.

My point is that kids don't really have all the info they need. If they are discussing their symptoms with other kids, they will likely get the worst case scenario. Kids are both sensationalistic and pessimistic, and happy to be so.

What kids don't have is what adults have... supportive behaviour. That includes helping them learn how to gather information, how to learn to manage their affliction (what you can and can't eat and when it is okay to have what you can't normally have because your mamma will pick up the slack and make it all okay...)

'Cause that is something you are probably really good at!

I do believe that procrastinating causes a lot of stress. I don't think I'd tell him he has to take your choice. I'd say he needs a deadline, though, and you can shorten the deadline by saying you need a list of pros and cons for school/homeschool by two weeks in advance of the start of school so that you can have time to discuss the merits of his points. Then you both need to take some time to work out your response, discuss, and think them through. You can break up the work through a series of deadlines that help him make his decision.
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