Ask Jigsaw: my daughter suffers from anxiety | Advice for Young People

Ask Jigsaw: My daughter suffers from anxiety

My daughter suffers from anxiety, it often stops her from leaving the house and doing activities. She can become severely panicked and stressed if she has to start something new, or just visit a friends house. She loses sleep the night before, cries, hyperventalaties and becomes extremely agitated.

For example, she asked to do a summer camp and she looked forward to it for weeks before hand right up until the night before. Then the panic sat in, she focuses on the worst possibilities of what could happen. This then brings on a panic attack, sometimes we can calm her back down and she manages to go through with the activities but sometimes it overwhelming for her. She panicked so much for the summer camp that she ended up not going as she was too distressed.

I am very worried as she approaches her teenage years that this might only get worse. Do you think that she would benefit from talking to someone such as a counsellor to help with some coping mechanisms? Or what should we do for this.

-Zay

The more we can understand about anxiety the less scary it becomes.

John, Jigsaw Clinician

Hi Zay,

It can be really distressing when we see young people struggling with anxiety. Our natural instinct is often to protect them from experiencing it as much as possible. You are right to look at how to address your daughter’s anxiety now to try and prevent it from escalating.

I’m not sure how much your daughter knows about what she is experiencing when she has a panic attack, apart from the fact that it is very frightening for her. It might be worth spending some time when you are both feeling relaxed discussing the purpose of anxiety, the ‘fight or flight’ response and what happens in our bodies when we experience anxiety. The more we can understand about anxiety the less scary it becomes. You might like to read the book ‘A Short Guide to Helping Young People Manage Anxiety’ by Carol Fitzpatrick for some further information about this. If you prefer digital information, the SAM app is a mobile phone app that has some good information about managing anxiety.

I most definitely would have it permanently downloaded on my phone as it is a reallllllly good app for anyone suffering from anxiety or just who gets really anxious or nervous quite frequently. I would 100 per cent recommend to a friend as it is genuinely very helpful.

Mikayla, 22, talking about the SAM app

You can also help your daughter to learn some techniques to manage her feelings of anxiety in the moment. The ‘Headspace’ app has some nice explanatory cartoons to help introduce young people to relaxation techniques which may help.

It is positive that you continue to gently encourage your daughter to try to engage in activities that are anxiety provoking so that she can learn that she is able to cope with them.

If you find that your daughter’s anxiety is impacting on her day to day functioning, it would be worth considering accessing external support. Your GP should be well placed to suggest support options in your area. When considering counsellors, it would be important to ensure that they are used to working specifically with young people. You can find out more about support options available here.

Best wishes,

John, Jigsaw Clincian