Types of Teen Anxiety and How to Help


If you’re teen is experiencing anxiety, you might have noticed it in them. Perhaps you notice how they jump when you walk into the room. Or perhaps you see their sweaty palms and their look of fear when they’re in social situations. You might notice your teen have frightening memories or nightmares from time to time. All of these are symptoms of anxiety, as you might have already guessed.


However, anxiety is a general term that can describe a few different types of mental illnesses. For instance, a teen might get anxious when with friends and in other social situations because of social anxiety disorder. Or they might have frightening memories and nightmares possibly because of post traumatic stress disorder.


In other words, it’s important to have your teen assessed by a mental health professional if they are exhibiting signs of teen anxiety in order to be clear on the type of illness they have, if any. Keep in mind that your teen may not have an illness at all. Yet, if you find that your teen’s anxiety is getting in the way of their ability to function in their day, then there’s a strong possibility that an illness exists.


If you take your teen to a mental health professional, and if it appears that they do in fact have a mental illness, your teen’s anxiety may be described by one of the following anxiety disorders:


  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a diagnosis given to those who experience excessive and irrational worry for at least six months. The excessive anxiety interferes with the ability to function and usually consists of extreme anxiety for everyday matters.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by repeating thoughts and images that might cause an individual to perform the same rituals over and over again, such as washing hands, locking and unlocking doors, or counting money. The individual typically cannot control the unwanted thoughts but get relief from the anxiety they experience as a result of repeating thoughts.
  • Panic Disorder is a mental health condition in which an individual experiences sudden and repeated attacks of fear, which are often accompanied by a feeling of being out of control. Uncomfortable physical sensations, such as a pounding heart, sweating, weakness, dizziness, and numbness makes up the experience a panic attack. An intense worry about the next attack is a common symptom.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness experienced by someone who has experienced a traumatic event, and who is experiencing symptoms of anxiety as a result. These symptoms may include flashbacks, bad dreams, and frightening thoughts. An individual might also exhibit symptoms of avoidance, such as staying away from certain places to avoid reliving the traumatic experience or forgetting the experience entirely.
  • A Phobia is an irrational persistent fear of an object, situation, or social activity. Examples of specific phobias are claustrophobia, a fear of small spaces, and agoraphobia, the fear of being in a place or situation from which escape is difficult or impossible.


Each of these anxiety disorders differ in their symptoms and so may require various forms of anxiety disorder treatment. However, in general, psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two has been proven to be effective with teen anxiety.


If you feel that your teenager is experiencing excessive amounts of anxiety, be sure to work closely with a mental health professional so that your teenager is appropriately diagnosed and treated.