Social Anxiety in Teens: Three Ways to Cope

Most people have experienced a form of social anxiety at one point in their life. Everyone, even natural-born extroverts, feel shy every once in awhile. Research has shown that 90 percent of people will describe themselves as shy at some point during their lives. But there’s an extreme difference between being shy and being introverted. Social anxiety in teens is the third most common psychological disorder, after depression and alcoholism. A recent article by Mind Body Green discusses three ways to cope with social anxiety in teens.

Social anxiety in teens affects 13 percent of the population and can be triggered by social interactions ranging from simple eye contact or being the center of attention. The emotional and physiological symptoms of social anxiety in teens can include fear, nervousness, raised heart rate, sweating, dry throat and mouth, and even muscle twitches and dysmorphia—but intense anxiety is the most common symptom.

Here are three ways to address social anxiety in teens:

  1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is considered the treatment of choice for social anxiety in teens. The advantage of CBT is its ability to prompt people with social anxiety to notice and challenge the difficult thought that arise in such situations.


Michel Mennesson, M.D., states:


“When a teenager has distorted self-perception, such as perceiving themselves as being unlikable or unlovable, or having significant body image issues,”—which are causes linked to social anxiety in teens— “CBT can be used to address these distorted beliefs.”

2. Breath regulation. Breath regulation is believed to be a powerful tool for social anxiety in teens. By concentrating on your breath, it helps you become centered in the present moment, as well as providing a host of benefits for both the mind and body. Slowing and deepening the breath activates the nervous system’s relaxation response, which ultimately slows heart rate and increases oxygen intake and circulation. This, in turn, increases calmness and clarity.

3. Mindfulness. Be aware of one’s thoughts and sensations is an effective tool for handling the emotional rollercoaster linked to social anxiety in teens. Arnie Kozak, Ph.D., states:


“With mindfulness, introverts with social anxiety can learn to observe their experience without reacting to it in a way that makes it worse…They can feel the arising of heat, pressure, and tension in the body and bring their attention to rest in the body and on their breath. This helps to take attention away from maladaptive thoughts about how they are going to be embarrassed, and so forth.”

Social anxiety in teens doesn’t have to dictate their life. While the tendency to gravitate towards social situations might never come naturally to some, the ability to enjoy them or feel neutral about them can be achieved over time. You don’t have to be the life of the party to thrive at the party.

Elevations RTC can help

Elevations RTC is a leading residential treatment center for teens, ages 13 to 18, grappling with anxiety, depression, substance use, and other emotional or behavioral issues. As a residential treatment center for teens, we try to go above and beyond other RTC’s by having not only one on-site psychiatrist, but two practitioners who see each student weekly. We also have an academic component that uses an accredited curriculum and licensed/credentialed teachers. With all of this, we strive to give each student the most efficient and beneficial experience possible. 

For more information about Elevations RTC, please call today!

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