A teen who acts out is easy to notice. But what happens when everything seems perfect on the surface? When a child is invisible – a little too invisible in fact? Social anxiety in teens is far from rare – it affects approximately 7% of boys and girls, but frequently it remains unrecognized and unnoticed.

It’s More than “Being Shy”

The greatest danger of social anxiety in teens is that it is far too easy to write it off as shyness. Certainly, there are numerous similarities between the two, but it’s the difference that makes one a personality trait and the other an anxiety disorder – namely, that shyness does not necessarily cause a negative emotional response. That is to say, it is possible for a teen with social anxiety to be an extrovert.

social anxiety in teens
Image source: Flickr user- Chelsea

Social anxiety in teens often manifests itself in obsessive thought patterns and physical sensations. In a way, it is similar to experiencing stage fright – but in real life. The constant fear of being in social situations and the worry of potential embarrassment can lead to sweating, shaking, muscle tension, stomachache, and many other unpleasant feelings. Worse yet, social anxiety in teens can cause them to go out of their way to avoid social situations, from choosing to stay in instead of socializing, to cutting class and school refusal.
Moreover, social anxiety in teens often stays through adulthood. In some cases, teens with social anxiety turn to drugs and alcohol. In others, they sabotage their own future careers so as to avoid people. And, given how easy it is to mistake for a minor quirk, it is imperative to pay attention to the warning signs.

What a Parent Can Do 

As a parent of a child with social anxiety, the first step is to be safe rather than sorry. If you suspect your child is more than simply shy – or if their shyness interferes with daily life – you should seek professional advice.
If your teen is continuing to struggle with social anxiety, consider blueFire Wilderness. blueFire Wilderness is a wilderness therapy program for teens ages 11-17 for teens struggling with emotional and behavioral difficulties.
For more information, please call 1 (844) 413-1999.

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