In Person and Online Therapy Sessions Available | (616) 309 0737
2460 Burton St SE #101, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
In Person and Online Therapy Sessions Available | (616) 309 0737
2460 Burton St SE #101, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Teenage Anxiety — What to Know and How to Help

When you think of anxiety, your mind probably goes towards adults dealing with stress. There are over 40 million adults currently dealing with some version of an anxiety disorder. It’s not an uncommon concept in today’s world. 

What you’re less likely to think of is children or teens living with anxiety. While it’s not as common, it’s not exactly uncommon. If you have a teen, this should be something that’s on your radar. 

This will give you a high level overview of what you need to know and some ways that you may be able to help. 

What Causes Anxiety in Teens

Children are resilient, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by what’s going on in their world. They don’t know how to regulate emotions fully, nor can they fully comprehend complex matters. It can be easy to feel drained and overwhelmed.  

For teens, on the other hand, their anxiety is more often a result of feelings and concerns about themselves. They’re in that in-between phase where they understand more than children, but don’t have that adult capacity yet. 

Teen anxiety can come from academic pressures, athletic performance, the pressure to succeed in the future that is dependent on big decisions of the present, peer pressure and perceptions, body image, and relationships. 

Symptoms of Teen Anxiety

Symptoms experienced by teens are very personalized and will vary based on the individual. It’s also important to note that anxiety may not be the most obvious observation because teens try to keep their emotions and deep thoughts somewhat hidden, especially from their caregivers. 

Some symptoms to be aware of include:

  • a constant need for reassurance
  • irritability
  • increased fear or worry 
  • withdrawn behavior from social activities
  • decreased academic performance
  • sleep issues

How to Help Your Teen

As a caregiver, your job is to help your teen excel in life, find happiness and success, learn how to be responsible, and live a healthy life. Knowing how to do these things isn’t always easy. 

You may not have the answers and you don’t need to in this regard. How you respond is more important than simply giving an answer. Keeping calm and collaborating with them to find solutions is key. 

Talk About Anxiety

Telling your teen not to worry or not to be anxious isn’t an effective approach. Instead, ask them questions and dig a little deeper. Have the hard conversations. Listen to what they have to say and offer guidance on how to move forward.

Being a support system for them will increase their comfort level and open the door for ongoing conversation. 

Be a Role Model

Even if it doesn’t seem like it, your teen is watching your behavior and reactions to life. How you deal with your stress and frustrations will carry over to them. Set a good example of how to problem solve challenging situations. Show them what good habits look like. 

Encourage Good Sleep Hygiene

Anxiety can interfere with your sleep habits and quality. Getting regular sleep is essential for brain development and recovery. Promote a healthy sleep schedule, a comfortable environment, and limited screen time prior to going to sleep. 

Be Mindful of Social Media Use

teenager holding phone with tik tok app open

While social media has many benefits and is incorporated into daily life nowadays, including for school use, it’s important to educate on the cons of social media. The skewed reality that social media paints is often dangerous to adults, so it may be even more so to teens. 

Remind them of that false reality. Encourage healthy interactions and exposure. Set a good example with your own social media habits. 

The teen years are formative and can be stressful at times, but they shouldn’t be a constant struggle with anxiety. If you notice your teen is having a difficult time managing their anxiety, it may be beneficial to seek professional services. Use our contact information to learn more about teen counseling or anxiety treatment.

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