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4 Signs of Anxiety in Teens and How You Can Help Them

photo of a teen girl sitting on her bedroom floor looking at a phone

For many teenagers, anxiety can be a small or large part of their daily lives. This can lead to parents wondering what is happening and how they can help. In order to understand why anxiety occurs, it’s important to first understand the definition of anxiety.

The American Psychological Society defines anxiety as an emotion caused by feelings of tension, thoughts, and physical changes, such as increased blood pressure. They also note that anxiety is not the same as fear, but it can sometimes be used interchangeably.

Those suffering from anxiety may have physical, mental, or emotional symptoms, and throughout this article, we will discuss some of those signs to look out for in your teenager so you can be better equipped to help them. 

Sudden emotional and mental changes

It’s normal for teenagers to undergo various changes as they enter and go throughout their teenage years. The key with this is to know your teenager and if what you’re seeing is normal or out of character for them

Many teenagers suffering from anxiety will show emotional changes such as: 

  • Irritability–both increased or suddenly irritable
  • Being concerned that something bad is going to happen
  • Struggling to concentrate or focus on everyday tasks
  • Being unable to relax or calm down

Struggles in school

Teenagers may start showing worsened schoolwork performances that are noticeable on report cards or in testing results. It can lead to them thinking negatively about their schoolwork and saying things such as “I’m not good at this” or “I can’t do this.”

photo of a teen girl sitting on her bedroom floor looking at a phone

Physical changes and symptoms

You may also begin to notice various physical changes and symptoms when a teenager is struggling with anxiety. These can include expressing that they feel nauseous or have stomachaches or headaches. It could also them struggling with muscle pain and weakness. They may be sweating or shaking more than usual. And some teenagers may not want to eat at all or you’ll notice them stress eating. 

Changes to their social lives

While changes to friend groups and interests change as children go through their school years and into high school, it’s important to look out for drastic changes that include:

  • Not wanting to do activities they used to enjoy
  • Not wanting to socialize at all or not wanting to attend social events
  • Having noticeable panic attacks or overall anxious feelings around certain people, places, or things

Now that we’ve reviewed some signs and symptoms to look out for, it’s time to go over how parents can help their teens suffering from anxiety. 

Identify feelings

One of the first things parents can do is help the teenager identify how they’re feeling. This can be done by helping them verbalize and label their emotions and physical symptoms that they may be experiencing. By doing this, you will help teenagers healthily process their emotions, and know what to look out for when future moments of anxiety may occur.

Learn triggers and coping skills

You can also help them learn what their triggers are. While they sometimes may seem obvious, it can be helpful to not only the teenager but the parent to know what those situations are. They may include schoolwork or certain people they interact with.

It will also be important for your teenager to learn coping skills that can help them manage their anxiety. These coping skills can include deep breathing, going for a walk, talking to someone they trust, or deep breathing exercises.

Encourage journaling 

Encourage your teenager to keep a journal. Many find it helpful to write down their emotions and thoughts in a journal this can be considered a safe space to express emotions for those who have difficulty expressing it verbally. It’s important to let your teenager decide if and when they want to share this will help them not only have trust in you but also help them feel like they’re in a safe space.

Remember, there is no one way to cope with anxiety. As long as you, the parent, are active in getting your child help, that is what will be best for them. Reach out to us to learn more about teen counseling and how it can help your teen manage their anxiety and other issues they may be facing.

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Green Heart Therapy provides in-person psychotherapy for adults, teens, and children in Los Angeles and online therapy across California.