Adolescent Anxiety

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Adolescent anxiety is common, and understanding the warning signs can help with the treatment and progression of anxiety disorders. There are distinct differences between anxious teens and anxious children. Kids are more concerned with the dark or monsters at a young age, while teenagers are more likely to focus on their own lives.

According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated one in three adolescents ages 13 to 18 will suffer from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders in children and teens have been consistently rising since 2007; between 2007 and 2012, anxiety disorders in children and teens increased by 20%. 

Enhance Health Group in Orange County, CA, provides anxiety disorder treatment for adolescents. 

What is Adolescent Anxiety?

Anxiety affects everyone, from children to teenagers to even adults. Anxiety is a fundamental emotion that signals danger or sudden, threatening change through stirrings of worry, fear, and alarm. On the other hand, anxiety can also become an excessive and unhealthy response.

Adolescents often have not yet matured enough or gained adequate life experience to navigate the waters of anxiety confidently. The triggering factors of anxiety for teens vary significantly in comparison to adults.

Anxiety is often a distant background sound due to the many changes and uncertainties a teenager faces. Anxiety manifests as a chronic, high-pitched condition among some teenagers, causing them to miss school and perform below their academic potential.

Making and maintaining friends, participating in extracurricular activities, and maintaining a supportive relationship with family members become increasingly challenging. Generalized feelings of discomfort can sometimes characterize anxiety. In some cases, this may be accompanied by panic attacks or phobias.

What Are The Causes Of Teenage Anxiety?

A variety of factors can cause depression and anxiety in teenagers. These can include but are not limited to the following factors. The intensity of trigger factors can vary across teens as well.

Genetics

Anxiety and mood disorders are more likely to develop in teens with family histories. Anxiety disorders tend to emerge when teenagers undergo massive brain development, and a new gene is expressed. Apparently, a gene has contributed to the general spike in anxiety during this period.

Traumatic Events

The likelihood of adolescents experiencing anxiety and depression is more significant if they have experienced trauma – such as sexual abuse or violence.

Environmental Factors

Psychological health can be affected by a teenager’s social, school, and home environments. Depression and anxiety may be caused by various difficulties, including:

  • abuse or neglect
  • divorce
  • bullying
  • poverty
  • learning disabilities
  • a struggle to fit in

Brain Differences

In adolescents, the brain is structurally different from that of adults. Stress levels can rise due to changes in teens’ brain circuits that deal with rewards and danger.

Neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, may also be different in teenagers with depression and anxiety. Neurotransmitters influence moods and behaviors.

Substance Abuse or Misuse

Teenagers’ moods can be affected by drug and alcohol misuse, leading to depression. Many teens use drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with their emotions, which can create a never-ending cycle of anxiety and substance use.

Puberty

As a result of hormonal changes during puberty, teens can experience mood swings and experience the stress of a changing body, making them feel different from their peers.

Exposure to social media can increase low self-esteem among young people. The Wall Street Journal reported in March 2020, 32% of teen girls said Instagram made them feel worse when they felt bad about their bodies.

Negative thinking patterns

Negative thinking patterns may contribute to depression and anxiety in teenagers. Teenagers can acquire a pessimistic worldview if they regularly encounter negative thought patterns – usually from their parents or authority figures.

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Signs of Anxiety In Teens

Parents and caregivers often find it difficult to distinguish between behavior that is a normal part of adolescence and behavior that may indicate mental health issues. Behavior changes lasting for several weeks or months may indicate depression, anxiety, or both in a teenager.

Teenage signs of anxiety can include: 

  • Repeating worries or fears about everyday life
  • Concentrating difficulties
  • Avoiding social activities
  • Substance use or abuse 
  • Feelings of panic
  • Irritability
  • Dropping grades or refusing to go to school
  • Self-consciousness or criticism sensitivity 
  • Reassurance seeking behaviors
  • Sleeping problems
  • Avoiding challenging or new situations
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Treatment For Anxiety In Adolescents At Enhance Health Group

Adolescent anxiety can begin to affect every area of life and daily functioning. The treatment of adolescent anxiety can be accomplished in several ways. Anxiety in teenagers is treated most effectively with cognitive-behavioral therapy, combined with anti-depressant medications.

At Enhance Health Group, we are dedicated to providing quality mental health services to help all adolescents suffering from anxiety lead productive, healthy lives. We can help you or someone you love if they suffer from adolescent anxiety. Don’t hesitate to contact us in Orange County if you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment.