Teens lead exciting yet stressful lives.  Anxiety symptoms may pop up at any time during the teenage years.

 

As a parent, be sure to look for these symptoms of anxiety in your teen.

 

Sleep Issues

 

Teens with anxiety symptoms find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or both.  They can’t seem to turn their brains off for the night.

They will toss and turn and sometimes come to their parents for help with sleep.  They say when they don’t have anything to do (cell phone, Netflix) they start overthinking or worrying.

 

Excessive Worrying

 

Teens with anxiety symptoms will worry about anything and everything.  They have a hard time finding joy in life.

 

They fear the worst may happen.  Their worries may be tied to performance (tests, sporting events, theatre).

 

Catastrophic Thinking

 

Teens worry about future negative events/experiences.  For example, they may have the thought “if I am late to school I will fail this class and have to drop out.”  

 

The worries lead to negative thoughts that pile on one another.

 

Panic Attacks

Teens with panic attacks can experience all or some of the following: shortness of breath, crying, flushed faces, sweaty palms, chest tightness, racing heart, dizziness, and fainting.

 

Adults have been rushed to the hospital believing they are having a heart attack only to be told by a doctor it was a panic attack.

 

Teens may start worrying about having future panic attacks.  During a panic attack, the body believes you are in danger.

 

Your teen’s sympathetic nervous system is turned on and they may fight, flee, freeze, or faint.

 

Panic attacks may result from trauma, phobias, or anxiety disorders.

 

Avoidance of events/people/places

 

Teens avoid people, places, or events that may cause a panic attack.  Teens may be absent from school due to performance anxiety.

 

Teens may sit out of athletic events or creative endeavors like school plays.

 

Teens that avoid social engagements may have social anxiety.  Exposure therapy can be very helpful for social anxiety and phobias.

 

Appetite Changes

 

Teens may stress eat especially around final exams.  They may have a loss of appetite.

Teens go through growth spurts and may have times where they eat you out of house and home or pick at their food.

 

If you notice drastic changes in your teen’s weight please get them to their doctor for an evaluation.

 

*Eating Disorders:  Teens that deliberately restrict food, overeat and throw up, or binge eat to the point of making themselves sick need to be evaluated for an eating disorder.  Anxiety may exist in conjunction with an eating disorder.

 

Trauma

 

Teen survivors of trauma may experience panic attacks.  Teens may have both PTSD and anxiety symptoms.

 

Trauma is based in the body and treatment involves identifying triggers and using body-based interventions to calm down an overactive sympathetic nervous system.

 

Trauma survivors are at higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder.

 

Conclusion

 

I have touched on some common anxiety symptoms in teens.  If you notice your teen experiencing one or more of these signs please get them evaluated by a mental health professional.

 

You may be tempted to dismiss your teen’s symptoms as hormonal or the normal teenage experience.  It’s better to be safe than to be sorry.

 

Trust me, anxiety treatment will do wonders for your teen.

 

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