While all teens feel anxiety 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.
If you met Jordan (not his real name), you might be surprised to learn that the teen has bipolar disorder. President of his senior class and lead actor in the school play, Jordan is outgoing, popular, and a high achiever. But that wasn't always the case.
When Jordan turned 16, his mood suddenly changed. He felt irritable, angry, and extremely fatigued. When he wasn't at school, he locked himself in his bedroom, sleeping all afternoon or playing "dark" video games. His parents noticed the dramatic...
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. 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. 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.