Last week the Parents Association in the town where I live held a showing of a new documentary called “Angst.” The film explores anxiety in kids and teenagers, its causes, effects and what we can do about it.
It’s a powerful, courageous and inspirational film that features teenagers, parents, and mental health professionals telling their stories and offering some great tips for managing anxiety. I encourage everyone to see it.
You can watch the trailer for “Angst” [here], and the producers are happy to offer it to schools and groups that would like to host a screening. You can easily reach them through their website angstmovie.com and find out where the movie is being shown.
My takeaways from watching this film:
1. Avoidance turns a molehill that could be easily climbed into something that feels more like a insurmountable mountain.
When we avoid certain things that scare us they just get bigger and bigger. It’s probably true that when we avoid things we are afraid of we feel some momentary relief, but it only reinforces the belief that the thing we are anxious about is really something to be afraid of.
It’s important to help teenagers to not avoid the things they are afraid of, (like asking a salesperson in a store a question).
Evidence shows that exposure therapy, which is something many therapists trained in cognitive behavioral therapy use to treat social anxiety, is the best treatment for reducing anxiety.
With exposure therapy we can gradually become less sensitized to these things that make us anxious.
2. Make time to talk with your child and encourage them to talk about the things that make them anxious
In the movie there are several scenes with parents and their children talking about how helpful it was to have their parents really take the time to listen and try and understand what they are feeling.
It felt as important and as healing for the parent as it was for the teenager to take this time to really talk through anxious feelings. When parents share the things that they are anxious about, it normalizes the discussion.
I don’t think parents can or need to understand everything there child is feeling, but for teenagers to come away from these conversations feeling seen and heard can go a long way to lessening their child’s anxiety.
I came away from this movie hopeful and excited for everyone who feels held back by an abundance of anxiety. I hope you get to see it.