Is Your Teenager S.A.D.?
Social Anxiety Disorder in Teens: What It Looks Like and How Mental Health Counseling Can Help
By Sandy Stone, Licensed Professional Counselor at Legacy Counseling Service – A Tulsa counseling clinic
Have you ever seen a kid who is so socially awkward that they just cannot seem to speak to people? I’m not talking about the 2-year old who buries her head in her momma’s shoulder because she is shy. I’m talking about that middle school student who refuses to go to school because she has to give an oral book report. The one who gets physically nauseated at the thought of having to talk to her teacher about a missed assignment. Does this describe your child, or a child you know? If so, you know how heartbreaking it can be to see your child struggle with lack of confidence, fear, isolation, and anxiety. You’ve probably tried everything and just don’t know what else to do.
A teen who has a social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, has anxiety or fear of being judged negatively. In certain social situations such as meeting new people, speaking before a group, or even doing a job interview, a SAD person will obsess to the point of shaking or sweating, even feeling nauseous or having their heart race. Social anxiety can be so debilitating that the person withdraws from social interaction to the point that he/she can no longer go to school or go out in public. Their way of dealing with their anxiety is by isolating themselves. Often, depression and other mood disorders can develop.
According to the ADAA, 15 million American adults are affected with this disorder. That’s an important bit of information when you consider the early onset age of SAD is 13 years of age. The indication is that many people suffer from social anxiety for years before seeking treatment. And, as teens grow without addressing their anxiety, alcohol and drugs can become a mode of self-treatment adding the need for additional help and/or treatment. By that time, the cause of the anxiety, and the treatment, becomes complicated.
So, how does one overcome social anxiety? The first step in overcoming this SAD situation, is to be evaluated by a physician or mental health professional. Medication and mental health counseling may be recommended and are very helpful tools in therapy to help teens overcome social anxiety. Legacy Counseling Services in Broken Arrow, OK has several therapists on staff who can help your teen. The mental health counselors at our Tulsa counseling clinic use evidence based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, to help teenagers find the root of their anxiety, evaluate their thoughts, and learn skills to reintegrate them into social situations without the debilitating fear of anxiety.
Call Legacy Counseling Services at 539-777-1129 for more information and to set an appointment for your teen to get the help he/or she is needing. At our Tulsa counseling clinic we offer weeknight and weekend hours and serve Broken Arrow, Tulsa, Bixby, Jenks and other surrounding communities. If you aren’t sure if mental health counseling is the best fit for your teenager ask us about setting up a free 30-minute consultation. It’s important to us that you feel confident in the counseling, and mental health provider, that you work with to help your teen overcome social anxiety and feel confident about him or herself.