The Anxiety of Adolescence and What To Do About It

Many people today are anxious. It’s not only teens but adults can also experience anxiety. However, teens are in a delicate time of life and so the presence of anxiety can be more of a burden.


Certainly, anxiety can arise for a teen simply because adolescence brings emotional, psychological, and physical change. The incredible growth that teens undergo can be the trigger for anxiety. Or it can be the other way around – anxiety was there first and adolescence is only exacerbating it.


Whichever is the case for you, it’s important to learn a little about anxiety as well as how to manage it. It’s also important to know when to get help, when it’s becoming more severe, and what you can do to keep your anxiety in check so that it doesn’t interrupt your life.


The following list highlights

Anxiety for teens…

  • may be associated with a precipitating event, such as a death of a friend or family member.
  • may begin spontaneously (some anxiety symptoms may appear before the onset of disorder).
  • may range from mild to severe and disrupt the ability to function at home or school.
  • may be chronic and long lasting.
  • may sometimes require professional intervention such as the help of a therapist or psychologist.
  • may get in the way of being able to enjoy normal developmental steps like independent activities with peers.
  • may bring on other negative life events as the anxiety gets in the way of making friends, being social, or even attending school.
  • may lead to  long term negative outcomes, such as social  isolation, low self esteem, lack of independence, depression, or substance abuse.
  • may get better with the right amount of support (friends, family, counseling, psychotherapy, support group, medication, etc.)


Anxiety treatment often includes medication and therapy. Benzodiazepines are the most common class of anti-anxiety medication. They include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin. The risk with Benzodiazepines, however, is that they are highly addictive and have severe withdrawal symptoms. Of course, any teen taking psychotropic medication, whether anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, should be closely monitored, especially at the beginning of treatment.


Another form of medication used to treat teen anxiety is antidepressants. They can be used to treat both depression, from moderate to severe, as well as anxiety disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


However, it’s important to know that medication alone is not a safe way to treat mental illness. In some cases, such as anxiety, it’s always safer to treat the underlying causes, in addition to taking medication. The anti-anxiety medication can provide a relief of the symptoms, but those symptoms will return if the underlying causes are not addressed.


In fact, for most diagnoses, research indicates that the combination of both medication and therapy yields the best treatment results. This has proven to be the most effective with most psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.


But you may not be interested in these options, at least not yet. If your anxiety is mild or moderate, perhaps you’re willing to try tools for relaxation instead. You might begin with the following suggestions:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Walking
  • Deep Breathing


Along these lines, there are many forms of alternative therapies that can help ease the anxiety you might be feeling. Some of these include expressive arts, drama, music, dance, poetry, acupuncture, and neuro-feedback.


The above suggestions can be very useful to help manage a moderate level of anxiety. However, if you notice your anxiety getting in the way of doing well in school, making friends, completing your chores at home, or having healthy relationships with friends and family, it’s best to talk to a therapist at school, a guidance counselor, or someone you know about your anxiety.