teen anxiety disorders

Signs Your Teen Struggles With Anxiety

November 14, 2023

Adolescence is a pivotal chapter in life, marked by rapid changes and significant growth. However, it’s also a time when many teens experience a decline in their mental health. For example, anxiety can profoundly impact your child’s daily life, relationships, and academic performance.

Anxiety disorders are increasingly common among American teens, and recognizing anxiety’s defining characteristics is crucial for getting your child early intervention, support, and guidance. The Forum specializes in comprehensive mental health treatment for teens between the ages of 12 and 17, fostering an environment where teens can thrive despite the challenges of anxiety.

Understanding Teen Anxiety

Anxiety goes beyond the typical stressors of teenage life. It’s a persistent state of heightened apprehension and fear, often disproportionate to any real-world threats or challenges. It can be paralyzing, affecting a teen’s ability to function optimally.

Today’s world is more stressful and fast-paced than ever. In a cultural and political environment that has normalized active shooter drills at school and a 24/7 news cycle that thrives on publicizing international and domestic terrorism, it is reasonable for anyone to feel less safe. Here are some warning signs that your teen is anxious.

  1. Excessive worrying: One of the most apparent signs of anxiety in teens is an excessive, persistent worry about everyday matters, including school, relationships, or future events.
  2. Changes in sleep patterns: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, frequent nightmares, or sleeping too much can all be indicators of anxiety.
  3. Physical symptoms: Anxiety often manifests in headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, or unexplained fatigue.
  4. Avoidance: Teens with anxiety may start skipping classes or declining invitations to social situations.
  5. Declining academic performance: If anxiety is taking a toll, you may notice a significant drop in your teen’s grades, reduced participation in class, or an overall disinterest in schoolwork.
  6. Restlessness or hypervigilance: Teens experiencing anxiety may seem unusually fidgety, restless, or have difficulty concentrating or sitting still.
  7. Irritability or mood swings: While angst can be a characteristic of adolescence, excessive irritability or extreme mood swings can sometimes be red flags of anxiety.
  8. Changes in eating habits: Overeating or loss of appetite can occur in some anxious people.
  9. Withdrawal from social activities: Teens struggling with anxiety might withdraw from their peers and social activities, preferring to spend time alone.
  10. Panic attacks: In some cases, anxiety can escalate into panic attacks, characterized by shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and overwhelming fear.

Supporting Your Teen and Fostering Resilience

Understanding and acknowledging these signs is the first step in supporting your teen. Open communication is vital. Encourage your teen to express their feelings and listen without judgment. Professional counseling and prescription medications can be immensely beneficial in providing your teen with coping strategies.

At The Forum, we emphasize the importance of recognizing and addressing mental health challenges like anxiety. By understanding the signs and offering compassionate outreach, parents and guardians can play a crucial role in helping teens navigate their anxiety. Contact us today to learn more about helping your teenager thrive.