As the first-day-of-school countdown winds down, knowledge is power – whether your child is entering kindergarten or a seasoned pro starting high school.
Knowing what’s coming is the key to helping kids remain calm when heading back to school, says Marcia Slattery, MD, a UW Health child and adolescent psychiatrist and director of the UW Anxiety Disorders Program.
“To understand anxiety, you need to understand why it’s there,” Slattery says. “And often, it develops in situations where there’s an unknown – when we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Worries and anxiety during childhood and adolescence are very common. Most of the time the anxiety that kids experience falls within the normal range. However, up to 1 in 5 children may actually suffer from an anxiety disorder before they reach age 18. Anxiety is common to human experience because it is important for survival, functioning to signal the possibility of threat in the environment. Anxiety’s survival value is evident as evolution has maintained it across the animal kingdom. Because of numerous studies, we know a lot about the brain systems that detect danger and signal the alarm associated with anxiety. We believe that this important brain system, when overactive, is responsible for more severe and impairing anxiety.
Recently, a group of teenagers from Kennewick, Washington, were winners in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge for their proposed app, “Safe&Sound,” to give teens a way to manage stress and depression. When interviewed on NPR, three members of the group described their own personal experience with depression and anxiety as well as a school shooting in their community as inspiration for the app. While they acknowledge that the app – which offers, for example, inspirational quotes, breathing exercises, and suggestions for coping – does not address all of the elements necessary for dealing with mental health concerns, it is a small piece of the puzzle to help teenagers deal with stress in an increasingly hand-held and web-based world. The app is expected to be released in June 2015. Read more
It can be difficult at the beginning to decipher what is an eating disorder versus what is normal self-consciousness and dieting behavior that comes with the changing bodies in adolescents.
But as the eating disorder progresses, the red flags can get more obvious. Some of these red flags include a change in eating behavior, where people will skip meals or make up reasons why they’re not eating:
We want to raise children who are resilient and can adapt well in the complex and sometimes challenging world we live in, but they don’t become this way automatically. There are four basic steps parents can focus on to help their kids cope effectively with difficult situations they will encounter whether in school or as they navigate social interactions with peers.