Teenage anxiety(9 Posts)
My 16 year old son has just revealed that he is very unhappy and it sounds like, from what he says, that he is suffering with anxiety. It all came out this evening as it was his first day at college and he didn't enjoy the day at all and is saying he doesn't want to go back. I think he has been suffering from anxiety for about a year, looking back, but didn't talk about it. He didn't like year 11 at school as the work got harder and he sort of withdrew and put on a 'don't care' attitude. He didn't do as well in his GCSEs as he could have and i think the anxiety and his feelings of low self esteem escalated. He then had a 'taster' day at college and went into panic, the tutor scared the living daylights out of him. (he's ex forces and quite to the point!) but he didn't admit this at first he just withdrew more. I say withdrew, he still went out with his friends he just withdrew from us, (my husband and me). We managed to get him to college today but he came home saying he wasn't going back! I am beside myself with worry. After some 'questioning' by me as to why he didn't like it he broke down and admitted he thinks he is going mad, he says his mind is working overtime with anxious thoughts, stupid little thoughts which make him tired and stop him focusing on what he should be doing, which adds to his worry. Things like what if i suddenly fell into the road when walking on the pavement? Things that might cross all our minds from time to time but we pay no heed to. He thinks the worrying will cause serious mental health issues for him. He was always a worrier as a young child but i could reassure him. He had a happy time in years 7-10 at senior school but found year 11 difficult and now relates college to being like school but worse. I'm at a loss as to what to do next. Do we let him walk away from college, thus potentially relieving some of the anxiety but probably lowering his self esteem more. Do we contact college and explain the situation, will they care? It's a FE college. We have tried to reassure him tonight, i myself suffer with anxiety from time to time, usually at times of stress. He doesn't want to speak to anyone as he feels this will reinforce that his feeling that he's not normal. I think he is extremely stressed and it has triggered a state of anxiety. On the positive side he still socialises with friends, he has lots, but he doesn't discuss any of his feelings with them. He is eating, not huge amounts, but enough, and he's talking to us. Sorry this is so long just needed to get it off my chest and possibly get some support. I guess i'm looking for reassurance that he will get over it, just as he is!
He needs to go and talk to his GP, with a view to getting into a CBT program.
The college can wait, it's not going anywhere, the most important thing now is to relieve the pressure your son feels he is under and to start helping him gain the skills he will need to cope with the challenges that he will face in life.
You really need some professional help with this. Agree GP good place to start. Surely there is some sort of pastoral care available at the college? He will not be the only student struggling. My DS has lots of friends too, but I find boys tend not to confide in each other. It's sad.
Thank you for your replies. I agree that he needs to get help and we are trying to support him with this. He is refusing to go into college today and i have said then he is going to the GP to get some help. He's given up. His self esteem is zero and i, having spoken to him earlier, feel he is depressed. He can't see the point of anything he just wants to withdraw from life. I asked if he felt suicidal and i am confident he is not. He's very very anxious about everything but also feel he is not helping himself, as i said previously he's opted out or is trying to. Do i let him? Or do i keep pushing him to do things to try to build his self esteem? I know when i've had anxiety the worst thing is withdrawing. It's so hard to know what to do, my anxiety levels are going up and i'm so scared i'm going to be ill again. I am trying to hold it together for his sake. I hope we can help him but at the moment he's so resistant to, well basically anything.
Firstly, you sound like a lovely mum. It's not unusual for teens to go through anxiety issues (I had an awful time from age 14). The college should have Student Support available and they will have supported students with this before. I would talk to them to see how they can help. Your GP will be able to help your son access counselling.
All these things take time and your son may need a focus. If he's reluctant to go to college at the moment, could he do an online course in something? It could help build his confidence.
Good luck and I hope it goes well with your GP.
Thank you all for your replies. He seems to have settled down with regards to the anxiety. He's attending college now. But, I'm still so worried about him. As I mentioned in my previous post I am a highly anxious person and tend to catastrophize everything so perhaps this is my problem not so much his. Friends and family say they are more worried about me than him. He says things like, he ' will never be happy' or such like and he seems to be feeling 'down' I don't think he is depressed as he is eating, sleeping, going out with friends, bathing and things like having his haircut, which he wouldn't do if he was depressed would he? I just need reassurance that teenagers can be 'unhappy' (to me he looks unhappy, but my husband says all teenagers look unhappy when they are with their parents). And i suppose i never see him at college or with his friends so I have nothing to compare to. I think I just need to hear from parents who have had children that have felt like this and have come through it. In other words can teens feel down without being depressed? Everything I've googled goes on about 'teen depression, and really frightening statistics which scares the life out of me. It just seems to say either teens are full of the joys of spring or they are depressed, no in between. I'm sure I was up and down when I was his age. Can anyone reassure me?
Anxiousmum oh dear I do know how you feel - I am a very anxious person myself and I worry a lot about everything. My DD17 is also quite anxious and as we have an open relationship, she does tell me her worries which I then add to the huge list of worries of my own.
I think there is a lot of pressure on teens to feel that they are having a constantly amazing time. Facebook and other media give them the idea that everyone else is having a brilliant time and when they compare this to their own situation it can appear somewhat lacking. I think it is possible for teenagers to be unhappy without being clinically depressed - in the same way that it is for adults. Unhappiness is a reaction to something that has happened which they don't like so I think that is normal. The fact that your son is able to continue with normal activities such as going out with friends and attending to his appearance then they are good signs.
I have found through experience that my DD will offload onto me about a problem and I will worry - she will often text me in the day and then I will worry about whatever it is all day long, but by the evening when I can talk to her again, the storm has passed and she is back to being fine. I will enquire about the problem and often will get the reply 'oh it's ok now' and I will think 'I've worried all day about that'. I now try and keep my own worrying under control but it is hard.
Teenagers have the reputation of being moody and I think this can be because we see them at their worst - at home when they have homework, chores and no friends around them , just their boring family. Also they do over-dramatise - 'my life is rubbish' etc. but I often find that after an outburst like this she is then sparkling away on Skype laughing and joking - I think as parents we see the worst and if you are a naturally anxious person it is a lot to deal with.
Good luck - hope that helps a little.
Monikar, thank you so much for your reply it has really helped. You have confirmed all the things i thought but because of my anxiety just couldn't allow myself to believe. You are so right about all the media they are exposed to creating this 'everyone's happy' illusion. I know deep down that i am so lucky to have a teen who is caring, considerate and to all extent a 'normal' teenager. It's so hard being an anxious mum. Lol.
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