Anxiety and Teens

One of the most common mental health issues is anxiety-related disorders, especially for anxiety and teens. Anxiety is a normal part of growing up, as teens face a range of stresses from school, work, family and friends. The transition to adulthood will have many anxiety triggers along the way. Anxiety is a good thing most of the time and is simply a part of being human, because it has evolved into a combination of mental and physical sensations so people can handle danger. When teens experience severe anxiety symptoms in the absence of any real danger, and the anxiety interferes with normal life, it’s considered an anxiety disorder.


Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions in children and teens. When treated with a combination of medicine and therapy, teens with anxiety disorders learn coping skills that can help them lead normal and productive lives. Without treatment, teens are at a greater risk of developing depression, eating disorders, self-harm like cutting, substance abuse and dropping out of school.


What Causes Anxiety?

Researchers are not sure exactly what causes anxiety disorders, but there are links to genetic, medical and environmental factors. Teens with family members who suffer from anxiety disorders are more likely to develop it themselves. Anxiety is also connected to a range of other mental health conditions, such as depression or ADHD, so experts believe that imbalances in the brain chemicals may contribute to how neurotransmitters send and receive messages. Finally, environmental factors such as trauma, abuse, abandonment or loss, among others, can trigger anxiety.


Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

Teens manifest anxiety disorders in a range of ways but there are some general symptoms that parents, teachers and caregivers can recognize. Here are the top 10 anxiety symptoms that teens frequently exhibit when they are struggling with anxiety:


1.       Rapid heartbeat and shallow breathing

2.       Irritability, restlessness and tension

3.       Headache, fatigue and upset stomach

4.       Lack of focus and concentration

5.       Feelings of dread, fear or anticipation

6.       Irrational fears

7.       Frequent crying

8.       Avoiding activities previously enjoyed

9.       Aggression and anger

10.   Detached or uninvolved in daily activities


Other more serious symptoms might include substance abuse, depression, reckless behavior and nervous breakdowns. While the specific symptoms for anxiety disorders may manifest differently for each different teen, when parents and caregivers notice several symptoms occurring together for more than 6 months, it’s time to get professional help.


Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are several different types of anxiety disorders that can affect teens, and each type can create significant problems in each teenager’s lives. Here are 6 of the most common anxiety disorders:


1.       Panic disorder: When a teen suffers from repeated and significant attacks that have physical and mental symptoms, and this often leads to avoidance of trigger events, such as groups, school or confined spaces.

2.       General anxiety: Characteristic of someone who has frequent yet irrational worries about health, safety or well-being. Often results in symptoms like insomnia and headaches.

3.       OCD—Obsessive compulsive disorder leads to obsessive rituals that attempt to alleviate anxiety. Examples include frequent hand washing, counting, tapping or the inability to focus because of worry.

4.       Social anxiety—Humiliation and embarrassment are the prime motivations for social anxiety, where sufferers avoid social situations and are extremely shy in general. The fear is so profound that often sufferers often freeze up or avoid simple encounters just to avoid the anxiety.

5.       Post traumatic stress—This disorder is a severe anxiety that happens after a trauma, such as violence, abuse, or loss. It’s an extreme form of panic attack that can significantly affect a teen’s life.


Teens who suffer from any of these kinds of anxiety disorders must get professional help in order to be able to find success in school, work and in establishing relationships with friends, family and acquaintances. With the right combination of professional treatment, teens can lead a life of success despite their anxiety disorders.


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