My twelve-year-old son is showing increased anxiety and sadness.

My twelve-year-old son is in his first year of Junior High School. He has had a bit of a rough time settling into the new school, quite a change from elementary. He is a wonderful son, caring, compassionate, and loving. He is also very sensitive. He does well in school, enjoys the outdoors, video games, reading, spending time with friends and family. He dislikes commotion. He has been showing increased levels of anxiety and sadness. This happens mostly at school and has been discussed with me by the teachers and guidance staff. He gets overwhelmed and upset easily, sometimes not even knowing the reason why. He was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism almost two years ago and has been on a regulated dose of Synthroid. When he began showing increased signs of anxiety, etc., I had his TSH checked and the doctor had to double his Synthroid dosage. In your opinion should I wait until his TSH levels are checked again (due in the next week) or should I seek medical attention for a possible mental health issue?

It is important to get his thyroid under control. When his thyroid is under control, his symptoms may remit. However, they may not.

He may be a caring, sensitive child whose anxiety was ramped up by a thyroid condition. He may not immediately calm down when the thyroid is controlled.

It will help him to understand that these feelings may take time to calm down.

At his age, he can learn to talk himself down. First, he can Acknowledge the issue  saying things to himself like: “OK, I am upset now. I don’t know why” or “I think it is because the teacher yelled at someone else in the class.”

Second, he can Describe what he is feeling: “My heart is racing and I feel scared and sad.”

The third step is for him to Assess the situation: “OK, I am a bit sensitive and my thyroid has made me more so.”

Fourth, he can Present Alternatives: “Just take it easy. Nothing terrible is happening. I can breathe slowly and deeply to slow down and relax” or “It is normal to react but I am particularly good at reacting to these types of things. I can calm myself.”

The final step is to Think Praise:  “Yes, that is a bit better” or “OK, I showed myself I can help myself in this situation. It isn’t perfect but I managed.”

The first word of each step spells ADAPT. You can help him practice these steps at home.
He will need your support to learn how to toughen himself a bit. He will also have to be careful not to avoid situations because of his sensitivities.

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