How To Help a Teen with Anxiety

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Anxiety can quickly take over a teenager’s life if it goes unaddressed – it can also follow them into adulthood (this is especially true for younger children). If you have a teenager who suffers from anxiety on a regular basis, there are many things you can do as a parent or caregiver to help them manage their symptoms. In this article, you’ll learn what anxiety is and the steps you can take to address it effectively.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the feeling of dread or worry that something bad is going to happen. It can include both emotional and physical symptoms. However, having an anxious teen who experiences periods of worry before a test every few months doesn’t necessarily mean they have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is part of being human. However, some individuals suffer from anxiety on a daily or weekly basis – for these people, their fear and worry are constant. 

If your child’s anxiety isn’t addressed, it can take over their life and drastically alter their behaviors on a daily basis. Teenagers with anxiety might stop hanging out with friends, start skipping school, or even start abusing drugs to cope with their fears and worries. Anxious teens could also become depressed and have their academic performance negatively affected. It could also lead to a panic disorder, panic attacks, or affect their physical health. 

The good news is that treatment is available. 

What are Anxiety Symptoms in Adolescents?

Anxiety symptoms can include a combination of the following:

  • Feeling tense or nervous
  • Excessive worry
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Panic attack (can be recurring)
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal problems
  • Avoidance of anxiety triggers
  • Unexplained physical aches and pains
  • Chest pain
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Crying
  • OCD

Young people’s mental health can also be affected if the above symptoms and anxious feelings go unaddressed. 

How To Help a Teen with Anxiety

There are a few things you can do to help your teenager if they are suffering from anxiety regularly: 

Consider Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is one of the most common types of treatment for addressing anxiety and helping individuals manage symptoms. There are two primary types of behavioral therapies – cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy. Both therapies are effective at treating anxiety. 

CBT works by helping individuals identify negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive ones that can influence their emotions and behaviors in healthy ways. 

The goal of DBT is to help teenagers regulate their emotions and live in the present moment (as opposed to worrying about things in the future or from the past). DBT can help teens develop healthy coping skills and teaches them specific actions they can take to change their behaviors. 

Talk with a Medical Professional About Medications

Medication is a common type of treatment for anxiety in adolescents. There are various types of medications that can be administered. If your teenager needs medication to help manage symptoms, the medical professional you’re working with will determine which medication is the best fit for their needs. 

The types of medications include:

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): 

SSRIs are one of the most common medications to treat anxiety. They work by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin, therefore reducing anxiety. 

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs):

This type of medication increases levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine, therefore lowering anxiety levels. 


Benzos tend to be prescribed after attempting to use SSRIs to address the symptoms of anxiety. 

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs): 

TCAs are antidepressants that can be used if SSRIs are not effective. They work by keeping higher levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Encourage Your Child To Share Their Feelings

Anxiety doesn’t need to be something your teenager is ashamed of or hides from you or anyone. Encourage them to share how they are feeling about school, their friends, or just life in general. By enabling them to talk about their feelings, they’re able to share a part of themselves with you that you can use to better understand them. Vocalizing their anxiety might then help them to take specific steps to manage anxiety symptoms, especially when they feel anxious. 

Can Anxiety Be Treated Without Medication?

Yes, sometimes anxiety in adolescents can be treated without any medication and with only the use of therapy. This will ultimately depend on the severity of the anxiety disorder and if there are any co-occurring mental health issues.

Get Treatment For Anxiety Today

At Zenith Behavioral Health we provide evidence-based treatment solutions and intensive interventions for youth and adults with chronic psychiatric and behavioral disorders, including OCD, anxiety disorders, and other mental health disorders. We accept multiple forms of payment including AHCCCS Medicaid and other types of Medicaid insurance to pay for our Arizona mental health treatment programs. Our primary goal is to offer a safe and secure environment while advancing each individual’s path toward wellness and recovery.