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RYSL Fundraising

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Josiah Thomas
Josiah Thomas

Extreme Young Teens



Separation anxiety disorder. It's normal for babies and very young kids to feel anxious the first times they are apart from their parent. But soon they get used to being with a grandparent, babysitter, or teacher. And they start to feel at home at daycare or school.




extreme young teens



Social phobia (social anxiety disorder). With social phobia, kids to feel too afraid of what others will think or say. They are always afraid they might do or say something embarrassing. They worry they might sound or look weird. They don't like to be the center of attention. They don't want others to notice them, so they might avoid raising their hand in class. If they get called on in class, they may freeze or panic and can't answer. With social phobia, a class presentation or a group activity with classmates can cause extreme fear.


Social phobia can cause kids and teens to avoid school or friends. They may feel sick or tired before or during school. They may complain of other body sensations that go with anxiety too. For example, they may feel their heart racing or feel short of breath. They may feel jumpy and feel they can't sit still. They may feel their face get hot or blush. They may feel shaky or lightheaded.


Selective mutism. This extreme form of social phobia causes kids to be so afraid they don't talk. Kids and teens who have it can talk. And they do talk at home or with their closest people. But they refuse to talk at all at school, with friends, or in other places where they have this fear.


Specific phobias. It's normal for young kids to feel scared of the dark, monsters, big animals, or loud noises like thunder or fireworks. Most of the time, when kids feel afraid, adults can help them feel safe and calm again. But a phobia is a more intense, more extreme, and longer lasting fear of a specific thing. With a phobia, a child dreads the thing they fear and tries to avoid it. If they are near what they fear, they feel terrified and are hard to comfort.


With a specific phobia, kids may have an extreme fear of things like animals, spiders, needles or shots, blood, throwing up, thunderstorms, people in costumes, or the dark. A phobia causes kids to avoid going places where they think they might see the thing they fear. For example, a kid with a phobia of dogs may not go to a friend's house, to a park, or to a party because dogs might be there.


A parent or teacher may see signs that a child or teen is anxious. For example, a kid might cling, miss school, or cry. They might act scared or upset, or refuse to talk or do things. Kids and teens with anxiety also feel symptoms that others can't see. It can make them feel afraid, worried, or nervous.


Most often, anxiety disorders are treated with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is a type of talk therapy that helps families, kids, and teens learn to manage worry, fear, and anxiety.


A 3-year evaluation of The Children and Adolescent Pregnancy Project suggests that adolescents with mental retardation may be at increased risk for early pregnancy and dropping out of school. The Pregnancy Project is a school-based intervention that primarily serves black and Hispanic pregnant teens with mild to moderate mental retardation and elementary school-age pregnant teens in the same program. Outcome data were presented in terms of four common indicators of teen pregnancy programs: low birth weight, infant mortality, school drop out, and repeat pregnancy rates. Results indicate that serving pregnant adolescents with mild to moderate mental retardation (ages 11 to 19) in the same program with very young pregnant teens (ages 11 to 15) is an effective and developmentally appropriate means of reducing risks.


Identifying the SignsAnxiety disorders vary from teenager to teenager. Symptoms generally include excessive fears and worries, feelings of inner restlessness, and a tendency to be excessively wary and vigilant. Even in the absence of an actual threat, some teenagers describe feelings of continual nervousness, restlessness, or extreme stress.


Anxiety during adolescence typically centers on changes in the way the adolescent's body looks and feels, social acceptance, and conflicts about independence. When flooded with anxiety, adolescents may appear extremely shy. They may avoid their usual activities or refuse to engage in new experiences. They may protest whenever they are apart from friends. Or in an attempt to diminish or deny their fears and worries, they may engage in risky behaviors, drug experimentation, or impulsive sexual behavior.


During a panic attack, the youngster may feel overwhelmed by an intense fear or discomfort, a sense of impending doom, the fear he's going crazy, or sensations of unreality. Accompanying the emotional symptoms may be shortness of breath, sweating, choking, chest pains, nausea, dizziness, and numbness or tingling in his extremities. During an attack, some teens may feel they're dying or can't think. Following a panic attack, many youngsters worry that they will have other attacks and try to avoid situations that they believe may trigger them. Because of this fearful anticipation, the teen may begin to avoid normal activities and routines.


Phobias Many fears of younger children are mild, passing, and considered within the range of normal development. Some teenagers develop exaggerated and usually inexplicable fears called phobias that center on specific objects or situations. These intense fears can limit a teenager's activities. The fear generated by a phobia is excessive and not a rational response to a situation. The objects of a phobia usually change as a child gets older. While very young children may be preoccupied with the dark, monsters, or actual dangers, adolescents' phobic fears tend to involve school and social performance.


Some youngsters are naturally more timid than others, As their bodies, voices, and emotions change during adolescence, they may feel even more self-conscious. Despite initial feelings of uncertainty, most teens are able to join in if given time to observe and warm up. In extreme cases, called social phobia, the adolescent becomes very withdrawn, and though he wants to take part in social activities, he's unable to overcome intense self-doubt and worry. Gripped by excessive or unreasonable anxiety when faced with entering a new or unfamiliar social situation, the adolescent with social phobia becomes captive to unrelenting fears of other people's judgment or expectations. He may deal with his social discomfort by fretting about his health, appearance, or overall competence. Alternatively, he may behave in a clowning or boisterous fashion or consume alcohol to deal with the anxiety.


Because so much of a teenager's social life gets played out in school, social phobia may overlap with and be hard to distinguish from school avoidance. Some teens with social phobia may try to sidestep their anxious feelings altogether by refusing to attend or participate in school, Classroom and academic performance falls off, involvement in social and extracurricular activities dwindles, and, as a consequence, self-esteem declines.


Some teens may experience such a high level of anxiety that they cannot leave the house. This disorder, agoraphobia, seems to stem from feelings about being away from parents and fears of being away from home rather than fear of the world. In fact, a number of children who demonstrate severe separation anxiety in early childhood go on to develop agoraphobia as adolescents and adults.


In many cases, adolescent anxiety disorders may have begun earlier as separation anxiety, the tendency to become flooded with fearfulness whenever separated from home or from those to whom the child is attached, usually a parent. Adolescents can also have separation disorders. These teens may deny anxiety about separation, yet it may be reflected in their reluctance to leave home and resistance to being drawn into independent activity. Separation anxiety is often behind a teen's refusal to attend or remain at school.


School avoidance can follow a significant change at school, such as the transition into middle school or junior high. It may also be triggered by something unrelated to school, such as a divorce, illness, or a death in the family. Some youngsters become fearful about gang activities or the lack of safety in school.


A worried teenager performs less well in school, sports, and social interactions. Too much worry can also result in a teenager's failing to achieve to his potential. A teen who experiences a great deal of anxiety may be overly conforming, perfectionistic, and unsure of himself. In attempting to gain approval or avoid disapproval, he may redo tasks or procrastinate. The anxious youngster often seeks excessive reassurance about his identity and whether be is good enough.


Some teenagers with anxiety disorders can also develop mood disorders or eating disorders. Some teenagers who experience persistent anxiety may also develop suicidal feelings or engage in self-destructive behaviors; these situations require immediate attention and treatment. Anxious teens may also use alcohol and drugs to self-medicate or self-sootheor develop rituals in an effort to reduce or prevent anxiety.


The evaluating clinician will also consider any underlying physical illnesses or diseases, such as diabetes, that could be causing the anxiety symptoms. Medications that might cause anxiety (such as some drugs used in treating asthma) will be reviewed. Since large amounts of caffeine, in coffee or soft drinks, can cause agitation, a clinician might look at the youngster's diet as well. Other biological, psychological, family, and social factors that might predispose the youngster to undue anxiety will also be considered.


If the teenager has engaged in suicidal or self-endangering behavior, is trying to self medicate through alcohol or drug use, or is seriously depressed, these problems should be addressed immediately. In such cases, hospitalization may be recommended to protect the youngster. 041b061a72


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