How to Help a Teen with Anxiety?

Teen anxiety is on the increase, and the best way for parents to assist their children is to encourage the development of important skills.

The notion that change is possible is one of the most fundamental components of healing 1and recuperating, whether after an accident, despair, or a broken heart. This is referred to as positive expectation by researchers, and it plays a significant role in the effectiveness of treatment.

To begin the difficult job of altering or healing, we must first believe that change is possible. I’ve just come across a growing amount of material regarding depression and anxiety disorders that contradicts this.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about a third of teenagers (13-18 years old) have an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is something that all teenagers go through at times. Anxiety is a natural response to stress, and it may help teenagers cope with difficult or overwhelming circumstances.

Public speaking, final examinations, big sporting tournaments, and even going out on a date may trigger fear and unease in many teenagers. They may also notice a rise in their heart rate or excessive perspiration. The brain reacts to anxious sensations in this way.

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Anxiety in Adolescents and Pre-adolescents

In the preteen and adolescent years, anxiety is fairly frequent.

This is due to the fact that adolescence is a period of emotional, physical, and social transformation that occurs at the same time as adolescent brains develop. Teenagers want to try new things and gain greater freedom. Teenagers are understandably concerned about these transitions, possibilities, and problems.

Teenagers, for example, may be nervous about beginning secondary school, appearing a certain way, fitting in with their peers, performing in school plays, or attending school formalities.

Sad and lonely girl crying with a hand covering her face (with space for text)
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Teenagers may also be concerned about obligations, money, and work as their independence grows. There are strong linkages between physical and mental health, and symptoms are likely to increase if a teenager doesn’t get enough exercise, sleep, or eat the correct foods.

Panic disorder and panic attack mainly appear in adolescence, generally between the ages of fifteen and nineteen, and is more frequent in females than in boys.

Teenagers’ anxiety isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Anxiety may assist keep kids safe by causing them to reflect on their current condition. It might also inspire children to strive for excellence. It may also assist them in preparing for difficult circumstances such as public speaking or athletic contests.

Anxiety in Teens

Anxious teens are not the same as anxious kids. Kids have distinct concerns and vulnerabilities at different stages of development.

External factors such as animals or insects, the dark, monsters beneath the bed, or anything unpleasant occurring to mom and dad might cause anxiety in younger children2. Teenagers, on the other hand, are more prone to be concerned with themselves: their academic or athletic achievement, how others view them, and physical changes.

By the time they reach puberty, some nervous kids have been worried for years. Perhaps the parents were aware of it, but the kid continued to operate normally despite their worry, so nothing was done.

Anxiety is a common occurrence in life. When anxiety is severe and persistent, it is called an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are characterized by extreme anxiety or concern about particular circumstances and a general worry that is difficult to manage.

Anxiety problems may make it difficult for teens to go to school, study, and socialize on a daily basis. They may also create problems in a teen’s interactions with his or her family and friends.

Anxiety problems in teenagers generally respond favorably to expert therapy. The sooner anxiety issues are addressed, the faster youngsters may return to their normal routines. Anxiety disorders treated early on are less likely to have a long-term impact on mental health and development.

What Is Causing Apprehension Among Teenagers?

Their Academic Performance

Students with these diseases are at risk of low academic performance3 and resistance to school-related activities. This might include a lack of classroom involvement, strained relationships with classmates and instructors, and a lack of interest in pursuing hobbies or making plans for the future.

A young girl depressed because of academic pressure
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Anxiety and depression may decrease working memory, making it difficult to retain new knowledge and remember previously taught material. This has an influence on their learning.

What Others Think About Them?

Social networking is ubiquitous among today’s youngsters and teenagers. It’s unsurprising that their self-esteem and worldview are linked to their social media answers.

Two sad women worried in a coffee shop with a window in the background
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It’s difficult for them not to compare their lives and social relationships and what they see on social media.

Detecting the Symptoms

Anxiety problems differ from one adolescent to the next. Excessive concerns and worries, feelings of inner restlessness, and a propensity to be overly cautious and watchful are all common symptoms. Even when there isn’t a real danger, some kids report constant worry, restlessness, or high stress.

Sad teenager crying during a couple fight in a coffee shop in the night
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The young people may be overcome by intense fear or discomfort, a feeling of approaching doom, the fear of going insane, or experiences of unreality during a panic attack.

Anxious teens may look reliant, withdrawn, or uncomfortable in social situations. They seem to be either too repressed or too emotional. They might be concerned with fears of losing control or irrational fears about social competence. Anxiety disorders in adolescence4 may lead to mood disorders or food disorders.

How to Support a Depressed Teen?

What can you do as a parent to assist your adolescent cope with the worry and stress caused by these patterns of excessive anxiety in teenagers is often accompanied by a variety of physical symptoms.

Muscle tension and cramps, stomachaches, headaches, pain in the limbs and back, weariness, and other pubertal discomforts are common complaints. They are prone to blotching, flushing, sweating, hyperventilating, trembling, and startling.

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Source: Depositphotos

Changes in how an adolescent’s body looks and feels, social acceptance and independence conflicts are all typical causes of worry throughout adolescence. When an adolescent is worried, he or she may seem very shy.

They may refuse to engage in new circumstances or avoid going through the motions of their daily lives. When they are separated from their buddies, they may complain. Alternatively, they may engage in dangerous activities, drug experimentation, or impulsive sexual conduct in an effort to lessen or conceal their anxieties and worries.

Anxiety Symptoms in Teens

Symptoms range from withdrawal and avoidance to irritation and lashing out. Because teens are skilled at disguising their thoughts and emotions, anxiety is often neglected.

However, these are some of the behaviors that might indicate that an adolescent is worried.

  • Irritability
  • Concentration issues
  • Avoidance of challenging or novel circumstances
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Stomachaches or headaches on a regular basis
  • Fears and concerns about daily life
  • Reassurance-seeking on a regular basis
  • Anxious feelings and anxious thoughts
  • Excessive worry
  • Refusal to attend a school or a drop in grades
  • Feels anxious
  • Social fear/Social phobia
  • Chest pains
  • Panic attack
  • Problems with sleep
  • Use of substances

Anxiety and Drug Abuse

Nervous teenagers (like anxious adults) may turn to recreational drugs, particularly marijuana, to help them cope with their distress. Dr. Bubrick points out that it’s self-medication, and the fact is that it works in the short term.

It helps with worry and tension. It numbs the pain. It does turn off the portion of your brain that worries. However, in the long run, it is a bad coping method since the worry lingers and the kid gets hooked on the drug.

Use of Drugs

According to Dr. Bubrick, the most common message he receives from kids is that marijuana is healthier than alcohol. Marijuana is legal in many regions (for those over 21) and vaping is available, it’s simpler than ever to smoke without adults noticing – on the street, at home, or at school.

Its use is very common in the United States among teenagers, according to National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Man with a packet of heroin. Drug addiction concept
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However, he emphasizes that neither is a healthy method to deal with worry, and he cautions children against using recreational drugs as medication. It’s no different from having a bottle of vodka in your desk drawer at work. You’re still depending on a chemical to get by — and the more you use it, the more reliant you’ll get.

Providing a Safe and Secure Environment for Pre-teens and Adolescents

Preteens and adolescents have the coping skills to deal with the daily difficulties and worries of puberty when they feel safe and secure.

You may make your youngster feel safe and secure by doing the following: establishing a family schedule that includes time for certain family dinners, as well as other family rituals spending time with your kid – for example, making supper or going to watch a movie together.

Smiling happy young adult friends arms around shoulder walking outdoors
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Make time in your family’s schedule for activities that your kid enjoys, such as listening to music, reading books, going on walks, and spending time with people your child loves, trusts, and feels at ease with.

Encouragement of Healthy Choices Among Pre-teens and Adolescents

Choosing a healthy lifestyle for your kid may frequently help him or her cope with anxiety. Going for a stroll rather than staying at home fretting will help your child’s mind clear.

Here are some healthy options for dealing with daily anxiety in your child:

  • Get lots of exercise, sleep, and eat and drink healthily.
  • Caffeine, alcohol, and other substances should be avoided.
  • By not putting things off or being late, you may save unneeded stress.
  • Breathing techniques, muscular relaxation exercises, and mindfulness exercises are all good things to do.
  • A schoolteacher can aid teenagers to manage anxious teenagers and provide support at this tough time in their life.

When Should You Be Worried About Anxiety?

It’s a good idea to seek expert treatment if you’re worried about your child’s anxiousness.

If your kid has any of the following symptoms, you should consult your doctor or another health professional to manage anxiety.

  • Feels apprehensive, worried, or on edge, all of the time, or can’t stop or control worrying and has worrisome sensations that last weeks, months, or even years.
  • experiences anxiety that affects their schooling, social interactions, and day-to-day activities.
  • An anxiety disorder may develop when anxiety is intense and lasts for a long time with frequent panic attacks. Professional therapy for anxiety problems generally works quite effectively.

The sooner anxiety disorders are addressed, the less likely they are to have a long-term impact on a young person’s mental health and development.

According to research, your personal experience with worry and uncertainty, as well as how you model this for your kid, has a huge influence on how she perceives the world.

When does anything become sufficient? What is your strategy for moving on to the next task? What does your family think of blunders?

Now could be a good moment to pay attention to and adjust your own reaction to errors, to pepper words into family conversations that normalize blunders, challenges, and flaws.

Teens must also be told that they are not expected to know everything and that they cannot predict the future. Your kid may learn to manage anxiety with the correct care and support.

Anxiety Treatments

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) paired with antidepressant medication is the most effective treatment for anxiety in teens. And the good news is that it works wonders.

CBT provides anxious children methods for thinking about worry in new ways and reacting to it in new ways when it strikes. They learn that by enduring worry rather than avoiding things that cause it, they may reduce it over time. The anxious reaction is lessened or removed by progressively increasing exposure to feared items or activities (a kind of CBT known as exposure treatment5).

Sad friends or sisters crying checking smart phone on a couch in the living room at home
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Professional therapy for anxiety problems generally works quite effectively. The sooner anxiety disorders are addressed, the less likely they are to have a long-term impact on young people’s mental health and development.

The drugs suggested for treating anxiety problems in children are antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Some of the most common SSRIs for children are fluvoxamine, sertraline, fluoxetine, and paroxetine. They are used in conjunction with CBT in children whose anxiety problem is too severe for them to benefit from CBT alone.


1. How to detect an anxiety disorder in my kid?

Detecting an anxiety disorder in your kid can be tricky, you can do this by observing their behavioral pattern and response to situations. You can also sense it when they eat less, stay home rather than go out and socialize and burst out emotionally.

2. How do I help my 16-year-old teenager to cope with anxiety issues?

Consider relaxation-promoting exercises like yoga, meditation, or mindfulness. Keep in mind that some people find certain activities to be more beneficial than others, so allow your child to choose the ones that suit them.

3. How does the 3 3 3 rule apply to children with anxiety?

A mindfulness method that is suitable for young children is the 3-3-3 rule. They are tasked with listing three items they can see, three noises they are able to perceive, and three different body movements.

  1. Stevenson, Jean. “The circle of healing.” (1999). ↩︎
  2. Cartwright-Hatton, Sam, Kirsten McNicol, and Elizabeth Doubleday. “Anxiety in a neglected population: Prevalence of anxiety disorders in pre-adolescent children.” Clinical psychology review 26.7 (2006): 817-833. ↩︎
  3. Shumow, Lee, Deborah Lowe Vandell, and Jill Posner. “Risk and resilience in the urban neighborhood: Predictors of academic performance among low-income elementary school children.” Merrill-Palmer Quarterly (1982-) (1999): 309-331. ↩︎
  4. Clark, Duncan B., et al. “Anxiety disorders in adolescence: Characteristics, prevalence, and comorbidities.” Clinical Psychology Review 14.2 (1994): 113-137. ↩︎
  5. Rothbaum, Barbara Olasov, and Larry F. Hodges. “The use of virtual reality exposure in the treatment of anxiety disorders.” Behavior Modification 23.4 (1999): 507-525. ↩︎

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