How to Help a Teenager with Social Anxiety Disorder

Teen girl with social anxiety disorder.

Being a teenager is a difficult journey. Magnify that through the lens of social anxiety disorder, and the teen years can be a living nightmare. Approximately 7% of children ages 3 to 17 struggle with anxiety issues. That translates into over 5 million children and adolescents dealing with social anxiety.

If you’re looking for information on how to help a teenager with social anxiety disorder, please read to learn how Renewed Hope Ranch can help.

What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?

The National Institute of Mental Health designates social anxiety disorder as “an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others.” It is also referred to as “social phobia” or “SAD,” which can sometimes be confused with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The physical, emotional, and social changes happening during the teen years can leave an entire household’s heads spinning. Hormonal fluctuations and just general frustration can, and will, result in some teen angst and moodiness, but when SAD starts to affect their daily lives, it’s time to take action.

The Symptoms of SAD

Social anxiety disorder goes beyond just having a bad day, and manifests in physical as well as emotional symptoms. Observe your teen and watch for emotional signs like:

  • Constant apprehension or dread
  • Always fearing the worst
  • Irritability
  • Amplified tension
  • Exaggerated startle response (jumpiness)

Does your teen complain of headaches or ask to stay home from school because of a stomach ache? These could be physical manifestations of SAD. In addition to headache and digestive issues, physical symptoms include:

  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Profuse sweating
  • Trembling

Sometimes the physical symptoms are only observable in a social setting outside of the home, like a classroom or other event where your teen must interact with others. Don’t be afraid to speak with their teachers or other leaders about your concerns.

Tips for Teens (and Families) Dealing with Social Anxiety

The great news is that there are many different methods, techniques, and treatments that can help teens who are struggling with SAD. You can be a big part of the process by:

  • Teaching calming techniques
  • Modeling proper social behavior
  • Opening the dialogue with your teen to gather more information about how they are feeling
  • Building emotional problem-solving skills
  • Setting realistic expectations
  • Sharing techniques in coping with negativity, both internal and external
  • Being open to the thoughts and beliefs of your teen
  • Not dismissing their feelings and struggles as “just a phase”

Renewed Hope Ranch is available to answer your questions and help you on this journey. Our RHR blog is a great resource for family and friends.

Teen girl experiencing SAD looking at her phone.

Anxiety in Adolescent Girls

About one-third of adolescents ages 13-18 are living with an anxiety disorder, and these numbers are on the rise. Females are twice as likely as males to wrestle with social anxiety disorder, and girls between 10 and 18 are particularly susceptible.

Social media may be one of the leading contributing factors. Filters distort the idea of beauty. It is a constant temptation to denigrate themselves through social-comparison. If someone is dealing with bullying at school, home is no longer a safe haven as cyber-bullying continues to run rampant.

Studies conducted in the U.S. and UK have found that teens who are on social media more than three hours a day or use social media more than three times a day are at a heightened risk for mental health problems.

Social media use can even have an effect on the physical health of teenage girls. Anxiety over what they read or even whether or not they are allowed to log in can cause sleep issues, which can then snowball into other health problems.

Hope Is Here: Residential Treatment Centers

Teenage girl feeling hopeful after receiving help for SAD.

Sometimes the best way of dealing with social anxiety is to help your teenage daughter take a complete break from her social circle and find herself.

Residential treatment centers like Renewed Hope Ranch not only provide that safe place, but blend it with alternative treatments like equine-assisted therapy and Positive Peer Culture.

Please contact us today. We understand the complexities of daily life for a teenage girl. Our facilities and treatment options are specially designed for your teen.