If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a severe food allergy, you’re going to find, somewhere down the road, a change in how you think about your allergy. Just being aware of what’s around you becomes being anxious of what is or could be around you. This is food-allergy related anxiety.
If you’re a teen or the parent of a teen or child with an allergy, you will most likely notice this anxiety after a severe reaction occurs unexpectedly. I had an anaphalactic reaction after we went to a Thanksgiving meal away from home a couple years ago. It was the first time we’d gone to an extended family’s home for a meal in, well, since I can remember. It didn’t end well.
That heightened my anxiety. Big time. And I wasn’t the only one. Both my mom and I were more paranoid about the precautions we took than ever before. In some people, especially teens, anxiety leads to isolation and even depression. So it should be addressed. But there are some things you need to know.
IT MAY BE JUSTIFIED
There are just some situations you need to be extremely careful in or avoid altogether, depending on your allergy.
ANXIETY LEADS TO ISOLATION
It’s normal for a child or teen who is anxious about a serious reaction to isolate themselves. You want to break this habit carefully. Use situations you know to be safe to help the process. Isolation can lead to more anxiety, frustration, and even more isolation, as a person can come to feel trapped in the safety net they’ve created for themselves.
IT COULD BE WORSE IN A PERSON ALREADY PRONE TO ANXIETY
Bear in mind, if you’re already prone to anxiety or irrational fears, you could experience food-allergy related anxiety more than some.
A PARENT’S INFLUENCE COUNTS
If you are the parent of a food-allergic child, you are a huge influence in their state of mind. Yes, you need to create a safety net in the home to protect your child or teen, but you’re also responsible for making sure they are equipped to go into the world with a severe allergy. And that includes their ability to manage food allergy anxiety.
I hope this has helped, but I would encourage you to check out this article from a food allergy counselor on how she works with people in this situation.
Know that I’m not a professional or an expert in mental health. I’m just a teen with a severe food allergy. 🙂 And I want to make sure other teens know that it’s okay to seek to thrive in an allergy-filled world.
Have you had to deal with food allergy anxiety? What has been your biggest struggle in managing it? Any advice to share? Talk to me in the comments.