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16 year old anxiety. Why?

Anonymous 16 year old
(Bogota, Colombia)

I have a sixteen year old wonderful son! He is confident surrounded by friends, does well in school and highly competitive water skiing. His father and I got a divorce when he was 6.



Every other weekend when he had to go to his dad's was a bad moment! He never wanted to go, even though he loves his dad! 10 years later he still doesn’t want to go! His dad and I have a wonderful relationship, we both got remarried, he has a 5 year old child that we all love and I know my son has a very good time once he goes.



On the other hand he has a school trip every year. He is in 10th grade and sometimes he just leaves for his trip and has a wonderfully time, sometimes he does everything possible to come back and on 2 trips he has decided he just does not want to go!


I travel with my husband once a year just the 2 of us! Sometimes my son is fine with it, and sometimes he just calls me crying everyday!


Last year he went to a world cup to participate for 5 days to Europe! I could not make it so we arranged for him to go by him self and meet with his team mates! He cried 5 days in a row, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep! It was bad! Now he is going to his 10th


He has a grade school trip on Monday, and he is already suffering! We are working on positive thinking and understanding what has him worried, but he doesn’t really know, he says he is not afraid of something happening to him or to me, he just does not know!


One of the things that worries him the most is being 16 and feeling "like a baby". He doesn't want anyone to find out, least of all, his friends. What else can I do??


Answer

Thanks for submitting this. If your son had anxiety , it would make sense that the back and forth of a divorce could be challenging for him. Additionally, it might manifest itself the way you are describing with separation anxiety.

It seems really possible that it might be anxiety related to something else, like panic disorder, if he isn't articulating that he is afraid something might happen to you. It may be that it isn't thoughts that he is afraid of, but something else that he is avoiding, like sensations.


It does seem important to get him some help so he can learn to deal with his anxiety. All anxiety comes from thoughts, feelings and sensations and how we are interpreting them, so we need to know a little of what's going on inside him. But boys in particular have a very hard time identifying the thoughts that are leading to their anxious feelings. A trained cognitive behavioral therapist should be able to get to the bottom of that. Once he is able to look at what his thoughts are, then he may be able to reduce his anxiety.

Other techniques to reduce the physiological effects can also be taught to him. Yoga, medication and other mindfulness based strategies may all be helpful for him.


Good Luck to you and your son!

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