Signs of Anxiety in Teens: How to Recognize the Symptoms

Smiling teenagers standing together appearing happy but is typical of hiding signs of anxiety in teens.

Anxiety is a common issue in children and teens, with about 32% of adolescents in the U.S. having an anxiety disorder. One in 4-5 teens has a severe disability related to their anxiety disorder.

The signs of anxiety in teens can vary and may include: 

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep problems
  • Irritability
  • Withdrawal from friends or social activities
  • Difficulties in school or sudden poor performance 

Parents need to recognize these signs and understand the impact of anxiety on their child’s well-being.

Additional Common Symptoms of Anxiety in Teenagers

It is not uncommon for teenagers to experience anxiety, and there are several common symptoms to look out for. 

One of the most prevalent signs is excessive worry or fear, especially about everyday activities and events.

Physical symptoms can also indicate anxiety in teenagers. 

Some physical symptoms teens may have are: 

  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances (like sleepwalking and night terrors)


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Adolescents may also steer clear of specific situations or events that provoke their anxiety, resulting in a withdrawal from social interactions. 

Changes in appetite and unusual behavior, such as frequent outbursts or tearfulness, are also common signs of anxiety in teenagers.

Parents and caregivers should acknowledge these signs and seek expert assistance if needed, since early intervention can have a major impact on managing anxiety in adolescents. 


Types of Anxiety Disorders in Teens

Anxiety disorders in teens can take different forms, each with its own set of symptoms and characteristics. By understanding these disorders, parents can better support their anxious teens. 

Here are five types of anxiety disorders commonly seen in adolescents:

#1 Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized anxiety disorder is distinguished by persistent and exaggerated concern about different aspects of life, such as: 

  • School
  • Relationships
  • Personal achievements 

Teens with GAD often find it challenging to control their worrying, which can impact their daily functioning and overall well-being.

#2 Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by frequent and unforeseen episodes of intense panic attacks, which are accompanied by physical symptoms like: 

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness

These panic attacks can be disabling and cause significant distress for teens.

#3 Social Anxiety Disorder

Adolescents suffering from social anxiety disorder go through strong feelings of fear and avoidance when it comes to social situations.

They may worry about being embarrassed or judged negatively by others, leading to isolation and impaired social functioning.

#4 Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation anxiety disorder  involves an overwhelming fear or worry about being apart from a close family member, usually a parent or primary caregiver. 

Teens with this disorder often experience significant distress when faced with separation, even for short periods of time.

#5 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD involves intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Teens with OCD may have intrusive thoughts that provoke anxiety and engage in rituals or repetitive behaviors to alleviate their distress. 

These rituals can become time-consuming and interfere with daily activities.

It is important to identify the particular anxiety disorder that your teenager may be dealing with in order to offer the right kind of assistance and to seek professional help if needed. 

Factors Contributing to Teens With Anxiety

– Did the Pandemic Cause My Teen to Have Anxiety? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of teenagers, leading to heightened levels of anxiety. 

Things that contributed to this increase include: 

  • Disruption of everyday routines
  • The uncertainty surrounding the virus
  • Increased stress and isolation 

Parents need to understand that the pandemic is just one of many environmental factors that may have contributed to the increase of anxiety in adolescents.

– Environmental and Biological Factors

Environmental and biological factors also play a role in the development of anxiety disorders in teenagers. Adolescents may be more susceptible to anxiety if they have a family history of anxiety disorders or if they have experienced traumatic events

Additionaly, specific characteristics like perfectionism or an inclination to excessively worry can elevate the probability of experiencing anxiety. 

– Family Support Can Reduce Adolescent Anxiety

Family support is crucial in helping teens manage their anxiety. A strong support system at home can provide security and stability, which can help reduce anxiety levels. 

Creating an open and non-judgmental environment so that your teen feels comfortable expressing themselves is essential as a parent.

– Does Social Media Cause Anxiety?

Social media use has become a significant factor in teen anxiety. While social media can provide a sense of connection, it can also magnify feelings of inadequacy and fear of missing out. 

It’s important to encourage healthy social media habits and teach your teen to recognize its influence on their mental well-being.

The Role of Parents in Supporting Teen Anxiety

As a parent, your role in supporting your teen with anxiety is crucial. By providing empathy and support, you create a safe and understanding environment for your teen to express their feelings and concerns. 

It’s important to let them know that you are there for them and that they can rely on your support.

Effective communication is critical in helping your anxious teen. Take the time to listen to their worries and validate their feelings. 

Let them know that their emotions are valid and that you understand what they are going through. Avoid minimizing or dismissing their concerns, as this can make them feel unheard.

Developing coping strategies together can empower your teen to manage their anxiety. Motivate them to engage in deep breathing exercises or grounding techniques when they are experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed. 

Check out these calming activities.

Assist them in finding effective, healthy ways to cope that suit them, such as pursuing hobbies, writing in a journal, or reaching out to trusted friends or family for support. 

Recognizing triggers that may cause anxiety in your teen is essential. Whether it’s specific environments, situations, or even thoughts, understanding what triggers their anxiety can help you provide guidance and support when they are facing challenging situations. 

By being proactive and sensitive to their triggers, you can help alleviate their anxiety and support their well-being.

Seeking Professional Help for Anxious Teens

If your teenager is experiencing significant anxiety, it may be necessary to seek professional help to provide them with the support they need. 

Many times, it is suggested to undergo therapy to manage anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular method used with adolescents who are experiencing anxiety. CBT assists them in recognizing and confronting pessimistic thought patterns and building better ways to cope with their anxiety. 

If your teen’s anxiety symptoms are severe or interfering with their daily life, medication may also be considered as part of their treatment plan. Certain medications like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can assist in balancing brain chemistry and alleviating symptoms of anxiety

It is crucial to seek guidance from a certified medical professional to decide on the best medication and proper dosage for treating anxiety in your adolescent. 

Seek out a mental health practitioner who focuses on treating adolescents and has expertise in addressing anxiety conditions. 

They can provide a comprehensive assessment and develop a tailored treatment plan for your teenager’s needs. They will conduct a thorough evaluation and create a personalized therapy program to address your teenager’s requirements. 

Importance of Early Intervention

Early intervention is important when it comes to addressing anxiety in teenagers.  By promptly seeking professional assistance when you observe symptoms of anxiety in your teenager, you can avoid the situation from deteriorating and impacting their general health. 

Professional guidance and support can equip both you and your teen with practical strategies for managing anxiety and improving their mental health.


Key Takeaways:

  • Recognizing signs of anxiety in teens is crucial for parents.
  • Anxiety disorders are common in adolescents, affecting about 32% of them in the U.S.
  • Common symptoms of anxiety in young adults include difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, irritability, withdrawal from social activities, and academic challenges.
  • Anxiety may have a significant impact on a teen’s well-being and daily functioning.
  • Parents should be proactive in addressing their teen’s anxiety symptoms and seeking appropriate support.

Next Steps

As a parent, your support is vital in helping your anxious teen navigate their challenges. By understanding different types of anxiety disorders and the impact of contributing factors, you can provide the necessary support and guidance.

By prioritizing your teen’s mental health, you are taking proactive steps to support their journey towards a healthier and happier life.


Additional Resources to Help Your Anxious Teen


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Smiling teenagers standing together appearing happy but is typical of hiding signs of anxiety in teens.
Discover key signs of anxiety in teens and learn effective strategies to support your young adult’s mental health.

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Shannah Holt

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