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DD14 suffering from anxiety - how to help?

(26 Posts)
SomewhereNow Mon 27-Mar-17 16:34:14

She's not a massively confident person but recently she's been feeling really self-conscious in certain situations especially at school - doesn't want to speak out in class, hates people 'looking at her', feels uncomfortable walking around on her own. She has a nice boyfriend and a good group of mates, does pretty well in class and her teachers speak well of her but none of this seems to make a difference.

The school does offer counselling and she tried this but didn't find it helpful so in an effort to be supportive I've arranged a doctor's appointment but am not sure what to expect - I don't know how much they can realistically do.

I have to admit a part of me feels this is just the way many people feel, especially teens, and that she needs to learn ways to manage her feelings, but if I say this she gets very defensive and seems to think I'm belittling how she feels.

Has anyone got any experience of this sort of thing and can offer advice?

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SomewhereNow Mon 27-Mar-17 19:27:03


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MicrowaveSpy Mon 27-Mar-17 19:37:17

My DD Y9 (nearly 14) sound so very similar to yours.
We've found that talking through different situations really helps.
We talk through scenarios (e.g. What might happen if you walk into lunch on your own?) Teens do think the world revolves around them which can make them feel extremely self conscious. Help her to understand that most people are really not interested in what she's doing smile
I was the same at that age but it did get easier as I got older.

SomewhereNow Mon 27-Mar-17 22:26:12

I definitely think there's an element of what you say in it ie thinking the world revolves around them, but it seems to be more than that. She says she also has dark thoughts about us dying or something awful happening - again maybe common at her age but it's really bothering her.

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MicrowaveSpy Tue 28-Mar-17 07:49:37

My DD doesn't (as far as I know) have dark thoughts. But I do remember as a teen. Being terrified that my parents would die. So as I felt that I tried to control everything I could. Is she showing any signs of OCD or is her eating ok? (Please don't be alarmed I am just speaking of my own experience smile )

OddBoots Tue 28-Mar-17 07:55:22

My dd went through a tough patch a few months back and one of the things that helped her was this self-esteem workbook, I don't know if it is the kind of thing your dd would do, there is one for anxiety too if you think that is more appropriate.

Maybe just show the links to her and ask what she thinks, it is very easy for teens to think they are not being taken seriously so showing her you are thinking about her might be a help in itself.

Crumbs1 Tue 28-Mar-17 08:00:48

I think lots of teenagers go through this as a normal way of coming to terms with an imperfect world. Anxiety about mortality, about war, about being ugly, about sex are all normal and not needing labelling as a mental health issue. How to deal with it? Reassurance, fact, distraction and allowing them to face challenges without stepping in to resolve every problem.

muttrat Tue 28-Mar-17 08:03:40

I do think it is normal. I tend to say no one is looking at you they all have their own worries. Ask her what she notices about other people. It's probably very little!

Kreen14 Tue 28-Mar-17 08:15:58

Make sure she is having vitamin D3 and magnesium if she is feeling physically anxious. Ive suffered from anxiety since my teens im now 40. Buy her some magnesium oil to spray on skin. You can make it very cheaply. If there are underlying emotional issues pay for her to see a private therapist psychodynamic councillor dont bother with the NHS they will just try and push drugs.

viktoria Tue 28-Mar-17 08:24:45

Kreen - NHS pushing drugs - that wasn't our experience at all. DD suffered from anxiety when she was 12 and she got referred to CAMHS. She talked of suicide and it was very scary and I actually asked if she could be put on dugs and get CAMHS councellor said that this was the last resort and he thinks we should persevere with therapy. We did and DD is doing fine now. I suspect that she will also be more anxious, than her little brother, but the anxiety doesn't rule her world anymore.

SomewhereNow Tue 28-Mar-17 15:22:17

As far as I can tell her eating is fine and there's no evidence of her harming herself or anything.

I do very much feel it's just a growing up thing (not helped by the fact that many of the YouTubers and celebs she admires claim to be suffering from MH issues - I'm sure some of the genuinely are but really, all of them? Maybe I'm just being cynical). She also seems desperate to give her feelings a label and I know she's going to feel dismissed if the doctor puts it down to her age.

I do want to support her and what do I know? There could be something genuinely wrong. I will have a look at the links suggested and will definitely ask about vitamins/supplements etc - another reason we are going is that she is permanently tired and I wonder if this could be linked.

Thanks all, really interesting to hear the different perspectives on this.

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swingofthings Tue 28-Mar-17 17:39:20

I agree with you SomewhereNow, this all 'anxiety is bad and must be avoided at all cost' seems to be a growing trend. Anxiety is not a bad thing, not just not a bad thing but an essential natural response to new situations.

I am a confident adult but I still regularly face anxiety when confronted by situations I am not yet familiar with. It's fine, I just get on with it. When my kids get anxious, I remind themselves how they felt when they learnt how to cycle and how anxious they were of me letting go of them and how they now ride their bikes like maniacs!

Learning to cope with anxiety is not different to learning other essential skills. The worse we can do as parents is to encourage our kids to avoid it as if it was something like the plague and/or that they are somehow victims when they are confronted by it.

It is of course different when anxiety become symptomatic and seriously reduces someone's ability to get on with normal life, in which case, it is indeed important to seek Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as early as possible.

corythatwas Tue 28-Mar-17 17:51:14

I think it is dangerous to let her get caught up in some kind of is-this-genuine-MH-issues-or-is-it-not argument. That way she will just be focusing on the way she feels instead of doing something about it. The best treatment is likely to be CBT anyway, so teaching her techniques for controlling her own thoughts. And that works just as well for a bit of ordinary teenage angst. If she is not bad enough for a referral, plenty of techniques are available online.

MicrowaveSpy Tue 28-Mar-17 19:06:23

I think the main point is that your DD is talking to you about how she feels and you are not dismissing her feelings as "being silly". You obviously gave a great relationship and this will help her so much.

I agree with you re MH issues and YouTubers/celebs it dominates much of what our teens are exposed to.

One of the main things that helped me was exercise and caring for pets. I was about 14 when I took over walking our dogs. The fresh air and putting them first was really helpful. There's nothing like a brisk walk to clear the mind. If you don't have dogs, try doing a family walk together at the weekend. My 3DC will drag their feet and protest but they are always in better spirits after I've dragged them out for an hour!

SomewhereNow Tue 28-Mar-17 20:21:11

Have to say it doesn't feel right now as though we have a great relationship confused.

The doctor was kind and helpful and is sending her for blood tests in case there are any underlying issues but he clearly thought how she is feeling was just normal teenage stuff and I tend to agree but of course she now feels nobody is taking her seriously and that she's being stupid to make so much of it. Anything I say seems to make it worse because she was so desperate for a label or some magical cure whereas I very much feel that she can't change her feelings so needs to learn how to deal with them.

I have ordered her one of the workbooks mentioned and am going to Google CBT, thanks again for all the advice.

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swingofthings Wed 29-Mar-17 17:54:45

And unfortunately, it is likely to be because she has seen her friends, bloggers etc... getting much attention as a result and she is annoyed that she is not getting it. What she's getting is being told she needs to work to get better rather than getting sympathy and people looking after her instead, so that will come as a disappointment

It is naturally as a teenager to want attention. Being a teenager is about making things about yourself. It's normal and she'll grow out of it. However, if this is a reflection of some low self-esteem, then I would definitely look at getting her involved in activities where she can get attention but for what she accomplishes rather than what she can't do. Maybe doing some volunteering helping people in need? Maybe seeing that she can help people who will be grateful for her support will bring a sense of self-worth and increase her confidence?

SomewhereNow Wed 29-Mar-17 20:17:50

I don't think she lacks attention from us but what you say does make sense - I think it's all part of today's 'me me me' culture even if she's not doing it intentionally.

She already volunteers at a local youth group but I definitely think getting involved in something else could help her, I'll look into that.

Thanks smile

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LadyMaryofDownt0n Thu 30-Mar-17 00:14:47

I could have written this post DD12 is behaving the same way. We've just had a CAHMS referral & she's currently seeing s therapist. However there does seem to be the current trend for these mh issues among teens. It's really tough watching her behaviour & going crazy thinking about her.

corythatwas Thu 30-Mar-17 09:34:12

Again, I don't it matters too much where to assign them blame- modern culture or friends or whatever. The important thing is to teach her that she can control her thoughts and that she will have a better quality of life if she does.

In our case, I am fairly sure that it is not just a case of modern teen culture, as the same severe anxiety problems have been documented in our family for at least 4 generations (and strong indications before then). My DM did not even own a television and hardly read the papers, but I can see her, trait by trait, in dd.

But other teens are likely to have different circumstances. CBT should be equally effective.

Our experience was that the NHS were very reluctant to prescribe drugs even when dd was very obviously suicidal. They took 2 years experimenting with other models and only turned to the drugs as a last resort.

Their message was always "we don't deny that you have a problem, we may not be able to cure it, but you can learn to deal with it".

Some similar message (but toned down to match the circumstances) might do for your dd too: not denying her experience, but making it clear that it is manageable and that the only person who can manage it is her.

t875 Thu 30-Mar-17 15:20:47

Great advise here - just to add if anyone has said about this sorry didnt read all replies.

Get her to down load the app HEADSPACE this is really good and will help her with the anxiety.
It is very normal with 14 for them to feel like this as they over think- over worry, become very conscious.
try and see if you can get the book the teenage brain and also another one, if you want it I can see if I can find the title for you.
There is things also you can get from amazon she can fiddle with hold to help her when she feels anxious.
is she struggling at school with any subjects?

Get her to do more of what she enjoys ( will help with self esteem and confidence)

Its a bumpy road but it does calm down. Good luck for her

DontMindTheStep Fri 31-Mar-17 11:32:03

If she is tired and anxious, a blood test might show anaemia.

SomewhereNow Fri 31-Mar-17 15:10:36

I wouldn't be at all surprised if it did but is that related to anxiety? I didn't realise.

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DontMindTheStep Fri 31-Mar-17 17:22:53

Anaemia can lead to heart palpitations and feeling feint, and this triggers the mind to think there is something worrying going on because a state of anxiety affects the heart rate etc. Also anaemia fogs the mind so someone can feel they don't fire on all cylinders and this makes them anxious.

Heavy periods can cause anaemia, a poor diet too (although dietary anaemia is rare), or there are some hereditary conditions.

You know she's not herself. I hope she gets distracted from overthinking. I hope there is no underlying condition. A clean bill of health is a good thing! Maybe you can tell her the sunshine of spring and summer helps a lot, and she doesn't have to be brave at all times, she is loved for just being herself.

Well done taking her to the docs.

Elbi Fri 31-Mar-17 17:39:24

Second the vitamin d and iron.

Also, if she likes YouTubers, this guy has some advice that I found useful for social anxiety: I'm usually dead against anything too self-help-y, especially if they're selling a course, but there's some useful, workable stuff in his videos. Obv check it out yourself first to see if it seems relevant smile

Elbi Sat 01-Apr-17 09:56:08

Re the above, sorry should have remembered that some of his stuff involves swearing and mentions of sex...

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