Teen Anxiety

Stressed All the Time? Maybe its Anxiety

Up late worrying about a test, a school event, or a relationship problem? Most people will spend at least a few restless nights worrying about something in their life. However, if you, a teen,  are constantly worrying about things, then it may be something larger than just teen stress, maybe it is an anxiety disorder.

First let’s look at what teen anxiety is. Teen anxiety usually refers to stress, worry, nervousness or concern over things. You’ll likely experience some level of anxiety at different parts in your teen life.  Sporadic anxiety is normal. However if it becomes overwhelming and lasts for more than six months, you may have an anxiety disorder and there is help.

It is estimated that 8-10 percent of all children and teens have an anxiety disorder. It is the most common of all the mental disorders. Unfortunately it also may accompany alcohol and/or drug abuse as some teens turn to these to mask their anxiety. By understanding these disorders, you can better handle teen anxiety and avoid serious complications.

There are six common anxiety disorders.

  1. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): teenagers with OCD have constant thoughts that compel them to do things. Teens feel like they must control their life by constantly doing the same rituals (checking things, touching things or counting things are examples).
  2. Social phobia (or social anxiety disorder): being uncomfortable to the point of being incredibly overwhelmed and self-conscious in social settings can mean a teen has a social phobia. Some symptoms include sweating profusely, difficulty speaking and blushing.
  3. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): this follows a traumatic event or threatened traumatic event. This is often associated with war, but many things can provoke PTSD. Teenagers with PTSD can startle easily, feel emotionally empty or even be violent.
  4. Panic disorder: this is characterized by a sense of impending doom and physically feeling chilled, nauseous and/or sweaty. Panic attacks usually last ten minutes and can even happen when a teen is asleep.
  5. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): worrying constantly and unable to relax describes GAD. If a teen finds his/herself worrying like this for over six months, the teen probably has a generalized anxiety disorder.
  6. Specific phobias: specifically and irrationally fearing something to the point that it retards emotional growth characterizes the specific phobias. A few examples include heights, tunnels, dogs, spiders and blood. Sometimes these specific phobias can induce panic attacks.

The important thing with any of the above is that you can and should get help. Psychoanalysis may be your answer. Or alternatively, there are medications available, such as Xanax, for many of these disorders. Often, just talking about your problems with others who have similar concerns can help you get over your anxiety. If you find that your worries and concerns are physically affecting you, making you unable to perform in your everyday situations, know that you are not alone and help is available. Talk with your parents, guardians, or school counselors for ways to help you stop feeling fear and start living well.

Teen Anxiety Disorders Sources:

  1. National Institute of Mental Health: Anxiety Disorders [online].
  2. Nemours Foundation: Teens Health: All About Anxiety [online].
  3. Focus Adolescent Services: Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders [online].