Adolescent Anxiety & Depression

Table of Contents

Michelle Barratt Psychology is a Toowong and Redland Bay / Wynnum – Manly Clinical Psychology Practice, and aims to provide treatment for Adolescent Anxiety & Depression in Brisbane at the highest standard. The practice values implementing support and treatment that not only endeavours to support all children and adolescents feel safe, heard and understood, but also strives to offer effective treatment that will empower clients to learn new skills to support them in the future. If you are unsure about what you are dealing with, please don’t hesitate to contact us to support you through the next step of either working out what to do or how to proceed with an appointment.


Adolescents experiencing anxiety of any form can be incredibly inhibiting for them.
Anxiety is experienced by children and adolescents for a number of reasons: Feeling threatened, experiencing or having experienced high levels of conflict, fear, feeling helpless, having their basic needs unmet, experiencing severe health issues, peer pressure, isolation and being bullied and could be experienced after an incident of trauma or long periods of trauma.

Impact of Anxiety

Often it can limit or inhibit the enriched experiences parents wish for their children to have so that they can learn and grow within themselves. Anxiety can inhibit an adolescent’s ability to build strong and secure bonds with peers and thus social skills that they require to develop and forge more opportunities for themselves are again lost. Most importantly anxiety can inhibit a child or adolescent to build high self-esteem, self-worth and acquire the confidence they need to go out and enjoy the things they often only imagine or dream of doing. Severe anxiety can cause low concentration, poor memory and can at times develop high levels of stress for the child or adolescent because they can feel themselves getting behind in school and this is where parents offer struggle with school refusal with their children.

As mentioned above, anxiety can impact on a child’s ability to make friends, and impair their ability to feel heard and understood as very important people. All parents want their children to grow up healthy, confident, strong and happy within themselves and this is where psychological therapy can support your child and or adolescent.

Psychological interventions or psychological treatments such as understanding their anxiety and its triggers, as well as play therapy, role playing and imaginal and or exposure therapy can go a long way toward helping children manage and alleviate their anxiety. For adults, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) can be an effective intervention for anxiety. It is therefore imperative that if you see any signs of anxiety that it is addressed as soon as possible.

Some signs of anxiety from three different parts of our functioning:

  • Behavioural Symptoms
  • Cognitive Symptoms
  • Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms of anxiety

  • Blushing
  • Sweating
  • Shaking/trembling
  • DizzinessTachycardia, rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Numbness or tingling in arms, hands or legs
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headaches
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Nail biting

Impact of Anxiety

  • Agitation/restlessness
  • Pacing
  • Pressured speech
  • Fidgeting with ones hands
  • Avoidance of feared situations or objects

Cognitive symptoms of anxiety

  • Confusion
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Mind going blank
  • Recurrent thoughts

Adolescent Depression

Research has found that many adolescents suffer from depression, and unfortunately as young as 6 or 7 (child depression). Depression is not a mental illness that will evolve over-night in your children; rather it is considered as an insidious illness that often develops stealthily over time. Your once engaging happy child has become a sad, withdrawn, demotivated, irritated, and often disorganised teenager. Assessing teenage depression can be difficult because often adolescents are described and known to be withdrawn, often not wanting to engage with their parents and stay in their room, with some family’s reporting to eat in their room too. So ‘disengaged adolescents’ are often overlooked, but parents, check-in with your child, and if you think there is a significant change from what your child used to engage in or do, don’t hesitate to seek professional support and encourage your child to engage with someone that will listen to their concerns confidentially. hat different causes too.

For your children, and adolescents alike, you might notice the following symptoms:

  • Little to no self-worth – not making good decisions to support themselves in school or with their peers.
  • Change in sleeping patterns – ‘struggling to fall asleep’ ‘waking up’ at night and not being able to fall back to sleep and struggling to wake up in the morning when you wake.
  • Change in appetite.
  • Loss of weight or weight gain by 5% of your standard general weight in the last couple of weeks.
  • Less ability to control emotions: e.g., increased levels of pessimism, anger, guilt, irritability and anxiety.
  • Appetite is usually reduced, sometimes individuals feel they have to force themselves to eat. Not wanting to sit at the dinner table with the family, or engage in conversation.
  • Emotions experienced during the day are incredibly variable: for example, feeling better in the morning but increasingly unhappy as the day progresses.
  • Reduced capacity to find pleasure in doing things or in what one ‘used to’ find pleasure in and,
  • Not looking forward to doing things anymore – even when exciting things are planned that used to get them excited.
  • When they withdraw from their hobbies, friends or not want to attend holidays or engage with the family.
  • Reduced pain tolerance: you are less able to tolerate aches and pains and or have a host of new ailments; reported often or for no reason at all.
  • Poor concentration and memory, and unwillingness to address homework requirements:
  • Reduced motivation: it doesn’t seem worth the effort like it did before to do anything – a real sense of ‘meaninglessness’
  • Lowered levels of energy and disengagement.
  • Social impairment – difficulty dealing with work or relationships, and a withdrawal from their friends.
  • There may be frequent reference to death, suicide ideation, or suicide attempts. These thoughts can range from a believe that others would be better off if the person ‘with depression’ was dead, to other recurrent thoughts of committing suicide to actual plans on how to do it.
  • Any reports of self-harm.

Please note: that in regards to any thoughts of suicide – please follow up with professional support.

How Therapy For Adolescents Can Help?

Psychological Therapy for children and adolescents has been proven (when your adolescent wants to seek support) to support teenagers develop awareness about themselves, and understand themselves better. Teenagers might need to talk through their emotions and learn and accept that certain issues or circumstances in their life are not healthy for them to continue to engage in. It is an environment for them to feel safe because they are not judged for what or how they think. Teenagers are facing external stressors and pressures like no teenagers before them have ever had to face, and these issues for them can be extremely stressful and scary for them. Giving them someone they can be confidential with and trust won’t judge them can create a space where they can feel safe to develop the confidence to understand their needs and enhance coping strategies to function effectively, and inevitably enhancing their self-esteem. All in all psychologists work through reviewing a teenagers problem solving, time-management, social, organisational, and communication skills, and offer all our teenagers the opportunity to increase their skills to make these areas in their life as effective as possible.

If you believe your teenagers need further support, please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss how we may do this? If you suspect they have depression, anxiety, adhd, or are self-harming, please feel free to call us or email us in the contact form below to set up a Parent Appointment to discuss the best support for your child, or to just obtain advice or support for us to support you on what best to do next.

Author: Michelle Barratt

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