A lot of people feel anxious. About's Guide to Panic Disorder defines anxiety as:
"A mind/body response involving cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral components. The symptoms of anxiety may include:
- Muscle tension
- Disturbed sleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased startle response
- Increased heart rate
- Shortness of breath
In some cases, a little anxiety can actually be a good thing, warning us when something is dangerous or overwhelming. But too much anxiety can be really stressful and can get in the way of every day life. There are a lot of reasons that gay teens might feel anxious. Understanding these can help you manage anxiety and other stresses of daily life.
Causes of Anxiety Among Gay Teens
Though anything can cause anxiety for teens, GLBT teens often have unique issues that increase feelings of anxiousness. For example, homophobia, not being able to come out, fear of being outed, and bullying are just a few things that can cause anxiety.
For one poster the the GLBT teen forum, trying to figure out if he is gay while dating a girl has been causing a great deal of anxiety. He explains:
"I am still not sure of what I am but recently I have been leaning towards men. The problem is is that I have this girl right now that I get along with really well; she is very cute and we have a lot in common. Whenever I am with her, I want to kiss her, make out with her, touch her etc. But when I am away from her, I am literally having panic attacks because I feel like I am gay and should just come out to her and everyone. My exact thought process is "What if you become closer to this girl, but eventually end up leading her on and hurting her." I am shaking right now as I am writing this. It's completely foreign to me to think that I am gay because all my crushes all the way through high school were girls. But something changed and now I am focused on guys. In my perfect world, I would be straight and with this new girl honestly, because she and I could have a future. But if I am not there for her sexually, that's not fair to her. I am just really pissed off, confused, and scary depressed and anxious. I can't concentrate or do anything."
There are a few ways to deal with serious anxiety. One thing to do is to talk to someone about how you are feeling. A friend, family member or teacher with whom you can be honest are all good options. A mental health professional who is familiar with anxiety and is supportive of GLBT issues can also be a huge help.
Some teens who are suffering from anxiety also find it useful to touch base with their family doctor and see what he or she recommends. Doing so might seem unappealing, and it might take a little bit of work on your part to get the help you need, but getting help is one of the best ways to feel better.
Teens can also work on self-help techniques for dealing with panic attacks (. Here are a few suggestions:
- Practice Deep Breathing
- Learn Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Use a Self-Modification Program
- Use a Panic Diary
- Develop Your Coping Techniques
You can learn more about each of these ideas on About's Panic Disorder site.
Anxiety is no fun, but it is something that you can learn to manage!