Authored by JoannaRasmuson

Anxiety Disorders in Teens

May 9, 2019 | Family Medicine

Many teenagers deal with complex emotions and feelings of stress or worry as they move through a particularly stressful time in life. These emotions are normal and healthy in moderation, but consistently feeling them could signal an anxiety disorder. Simply put, anxiety is a disruption in how the brain handles the signs of danger and the actions you take to avoid it. For those with anxiety, this danger signal appears when there is no danger, causing the person to be in a constant state of stress even when there is no apparent stressor.

Some anxiety is completely normal and even necessary for safety. When it begins to interfere with your teen’s daily life or decreases his or her quality of life, it may be time to seek help.


Common Types of Anxiety Disorders

School, peer pressure, stress about the future and other environmental and physiological factors can influence a teenager’s risk of developing an anxiety disorder Other types of anxiety disorders that teens may face include

  • Generalized anxiety disorder: chronic anxiety
  • Phobias: extreme and/or irrational fears
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and repetitive behaviors
  • Panic disorder: a disorder in which those affected experience unexpected and repeated panic attacks, which are episodes of intense fear and uncomfortable physical symptoms
  • Social anxiety: overwhelming anxiety in social situations
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): anxiety caused by experiencing a traumatic event


While some cases of anxiety are attributed to specific situations or experiences, some teens may actually have a chemical imbalance that causes anxiety.

What to Do When Your Teen Has an Anxiety Disorder

Having anxiety can be hard for teens and their parents to cope with, so it’s important to stay in close communication with your teen. The following tips may help:

  • Listen: It’s not always possible to fix the problems your teen is facing, but you can always listen to and validate their feelings. This sends a message that someone cares about them, and knowing that people care about you is vital when coping with a mental illness or disorder.
  • Be Patient: It can be frustrating to care for a child with an anxiety disorder. Their behavior may change quickly, and it’s important to remember that “snapping out of it” or changing their behavior is more complicated than it may seem. If you are impatient, the situation can escalate and become worse. Do your best to be patient and stay positive.
  • Watch Their Behavior: Watch closely for changes in your teen with an anxiety disorder, as they may also develop clinical depression. Others may turn to drugs or alcohol to control their anxiety, in which case it may be necessary to get the help of a medical professional.
  • Reinforce Positive Behavior: Your child or teen may become needy or fearful when they have anxiety. Don’t reassure their fears or shield them from the things that make them upset. Encourage them to face their worries with sensitivity.

Anxiety disorders affect each person differently. Some may feel mentally or emotionally stressed while others may develop physiological issues, like stomach problems or insomnia, that affect their everyday lives. 

If you feel your teen is dealing with an anxiety disorder, seek the help of a doctor or other mental health professional.


Revere Health Orem Family Medicine is devoted to comprehensive healthcare for patients of all ages and providing thorough and timely healthcare for the entire family throughout all stages of life.



“Anxiety Disorders.” TeensHealth.

“Generalized Anxiety Disorder.” Teen Mental Health.

The Live Better Team


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.