All tied together – anxiety, burnout & PTSD

 In Anxiety & Nerves, Junior Athletes & Parents, Stress

swimming-78112_1280These can be part of the same thing. Not always but it seems to be quite common that a client initially presents with anxiety which leads to burnout which leads to a form of PTSD. This is becoming more and more common than ever before for young teenagers.

Lets use one of my case studies as an example. Two weeks ago the Mom of a 13 year old swimmer calls me. Her daughter is having terrible anxiety and she wants to put her on medication (this is more common than ordinary). I had a conversation with the Mom and suggested that she hold off on the medication until I spend some time working with her daughter. She agree’s and brings her daughter in a couple days later. Here’s some of what ensued: Kathy has been swimming since she was 5. Initially she loved swimming with her friends, getting better and just being in the water. She said she’d always dealt with anxiety but it seems to have gotten really bad around the age of 10. It was during that time that Kathy entered junior high school and had to make the decision to only do swimming. The change in schools, grade level and the pressure to be great at swimming all collided. Kathy was putting a lot of time in at the pool but she started feeling not good enough, nervous about how she was going to perform even at practice and was always focused on times and dropping times.

Anxiety left unattended breeds a fear that is like nothing else. Kathy continued going to swimming most days but was feeling burnt out from having to deal with the anxiety and the effects the anxiety had on her swimming. It left her feeling exhausted, tired; sometimes sick to her stomach, achy and usually with a headache (signs of burnout). For 3 years her anxiety and everything that comes with it has grown and now she feels afraid to get in the pool. She has uncontrollable thoughts about how bad a swimmer she is and about how she’ll never get any better. Some days the thought of putting on her bathing suit brings her tears. On days when she can get to the pool, the anxiety brings back such bad memories for her that she trembles and often gets sick to her stomach. The smell of the chlorine makes her want to run away. These are signs of PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. 

If you are reading this you may be thinking, this is not as bad as being a soldier at war. The two experiences are completely different although the feelings associated with what Kathy and several other clients her age are experiencing feels quite similar. One of the differences is this, Kathy is 13. These patterns are starting to become ingrained but aren’t yet totally solidified. In my experience this is the age where mental training can have a huge impact.

If you want to know more about how I can help your teenager deal with their anxiety, please contact me.

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