Skip to content

Teen Health

Font Size

Anxiety and Teens

While all teens feel anxious from time to time, some feel it more than others.

Say your best friend tells you she's going to the airport with her dad to learn to skydive. She's totally excited. But just thinking of skydiving causes you tremendous anxiety. Your stomach churns, your heart races, and you feel a lump in your throat when you try to swallow. You can't believe your friend is actually doing this, and think about it all day long. When she calls that evening, she says she can't wait to skydive again -- "It was thrilling!"  While you and your friend are both thinking about skydiving, you perceive the situation in very different ways.

Recommended Related to Teens

My Sister Is Driving Me Nuts! How to Deal With Sibling Rivalry

Having a sister has its definite advantages. When you want to borrow a skirt to go with your new sweater, or gossip about this really cute guy at school, just head to her room. If you need to gripe about your Mom and Dad, she can totally relate. And honestly, who else in this world knows you better than your sister? On the flip side, having a sister has some major disadvantages, too -- especially if she's the star athlete and straight-A student, while you trip over your own feet every time you run...

Read the My Sister Is Driving Me Nuts! How to Deal With Sibling Rivalry article > >

What Is Anxiety?

For teens or anyone else, anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. Things like tests, meeting new people, speaking in public, going on a date, and competing in sports can make us feel apprehensive or uneasy. But some teens react much more strongly to stressful situations than others. Even thinking about the situations may cause them great distress.

Anxiety can be a good thing when it helps you deal with a tense situation. For example, when you're studying for a test, a little anxiety can make you want to study hard so you do well. But at other times, anxiety can be harmful, especially when it is excessive and irrational, and prevents you from being able to focus.

Sometimes the anxiety can come between you and your friends, especially when you avoid going out with them or calling them because you're too panicked or tense. This level of anxiety is harmful and that's when you need to do something to feel less anxious so you can fully enjoy your teenage life.

How Can Teens Cope with Anxiety?

Many teens find ways to cope with the high anxiety they feel. It's important to recognize your emotions, to know what you're feeling and why you're feeling that way. Recognizing the types of situations that cause your anxiety is helpful as well.

Sometimes just admitting that a situation is stressful and being prepared to deal with it can reduce your anxiety. If you try these simple measures and still have too much anxiety, getting treatment from a health care professional or therapist is the next step.

How Much Anxiety is too Much?

Here are some of the signs of excess anxiety:

  • You feel anxious, worried, or afraid for no reason at all. Normally, teens feel anxiety because of something specific -- like a test or going out on a date. But if there's no obvious reason for your feelings, your anxiety level may be too high.
  • You worry too much about everyday events or activities. Some worry is normal. But if you're constantly worrying about things that are not unusual, your anxiety level is too high.
  • You continually check whether you did something right. While it's normal to check something you did to make sure it's right, continuing to check it again and again is a sign that you have way too much anxiety.
  • You're so panicky you're unable to function in certain specific situations -- like taking tests or socializing with friends.

Today on WebMD

unhappy teen couple
Article
mini cupcakes
fitSlideshow
 
teen couple
ARTICLE
Teenage Couple standing in a fairground laughing
Article
 
Sugary drinks
fitSlideshow
teen wearing toning shoes
fitSlideshow
 
young woman texting
Article
teen boy holding a condom
ARTICLE
 
Teen girls eating ice cream
fitQUIZ
teen sleeping
fitARTICLE
 
couple kissing
SLIDESHOW
Taylor Swift
fitSLIDESHOW