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Anxiety in teenagers

3-minute read

Anxiety is a normal part of life and can affect anyone. Sometimes, if anxiety becomes overwhelming and doesn’t go away, it can be a sign of a more serious anxiety disorder. However, with treatment and support from family and friends, anxiety can be managed.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the feeling you get when you feel tense, when you might breathe a little fast, when your heart starts to race, and when you’re worried about the situation you’re in or what might come next.

A bit of anxiety from time to time is normal, especially for teenagers. It can help with motivation around school, sport or work, and can help keep them out of danger. But if these anxious feelings don’t go away, they can interfere with concentrating at school, socialising with friends or enjoying life.

How does anxiety affect teenagers?

Anxiety disorders can be especially serious for young people, because they are still developing. If left untreated, anxiety disorders in teenagers can have long-term effects that can continue into adulthood. Signs of an anxiety disorder include:

  • feeling constantly agitated, tense, or restless
  • having physical signs, including sore muscles, a racing heart, sweating, headache, stomach aches or shortness of breath
  • being sensitive to criticism or extremely self-conscious
  • having unhelpful, irrational and negative thoughts
  • always expecting the worst to happen
  • avoiding difficult or new situations
  • being withdrawn
  • having trouble concentrating and starting or finishing schoolwork
  • having trouble sleeping

Types of anxiety in teenagers

Not all teenagers will have the same symptoms. There are many different types of anxiety disorders that teenagers can experience, including:

By talking to a health professional, a treatment plan can be made to suit your specific condition, or your child’s.

Treating anxiety in teenagers

Anxiety treatments for teenage mental health can range from simple lifestyle changes to counselling techniques.

For people with mild-to-moderate anxiety, treatment might include:

For more severe anxiety, treatments might include:

Where to get help

Dealing with anxiety during your teenage years can be tough but it can be easier if you seek help. Talk to your doctor, (search for a doctor in your region), or see below for online programs and tools that can help.

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Last reviewed: May 2020


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