How to Handle Anxiety in Teenagers

Most adults remember their teenage years as being, well… challenging. Acne, academics, crushes, life decisions, and peer opinions are a lot to juggle, not to mention puberty, so it’s only natural for teens to feel anxious sometimes. While a certain level of stress and worry is normal during the teenage years, excessive anxiety can hinder an adolescent's ability to function and grow. As a parent, it can be hard to remember what “normal” teenage anxiety feels like, and even harder to know when your teen’s anxiety is something you should be concerned about. About 31% of U.S. adolescents meet the criteria for a diagnosable anxiety disorder by age 18, so learning how to recognize and support anxiety in teenagers is crucial for your teen’s development and well-being.

Normal Teenage Worries vs. Clinical Anxiety

During adolescence, it’s normal for teenagers to experience increased worries as they face more academic pressures, social challenges, and looming life decisions. However, clinical anxiety goes beyond typical teenage concerns. It persists and intensifies over time, significantly impairing daily activities such as school work, social interactions, and family life. It’s characterized by excessive, long-lasting preoccupation with fears, physical symptoms like fatigue or stomachaches, and avoidance behaviors that limit their life experiences.

Anxiety in teenagers can manifest in various ways:

Understanding these signs is the first step in helping adolescents manage their anxiety effectively.

Risk Factors for Anxiety in Teenagers

An anxiety disorder can be caused by genetics or events. While male and female children experience anxiety at roughly the same rate, this changes after puberty. Adolescent females are significantly more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than their male counterparts. Other risk factors for anxiety in teenagers include:

If your teenager checks one or more of these boxes, they are at an increased risk for an anxiety disorder.

How to Support Your Anxious Teen

Supporting an anxious adolescent involves direct and indirect strategies tailored to their specific needs. First and foremost, it is important to be a safe space for your child. Encourage open communication by creating a safe, non-judgmental space for them to express their worries and fears. Reassure them that you are proud of them and love them no matter what they do or what feelings they experience.

You can also support your anxious teen by:

When is it Time to be Concerned?

While some anxiety is a normal part of adolescence, it may be time to seek help if your child’s anxiety:

How to Get Help for An Anxious Adolescent

Untreated anxiety puts teens at risk of severe clinical depression or maladaptive coping strategies such as drugs, alcohol, or self-harming behavior. If you are concerned about your teenager's anxiety, consult a professional. You can start by talking to their doctor, or a mental health professional who specializes in adolescent mental health. They will most likely recommend therapy, which can make a huge difference. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is particularly effective for anxiety, as it helps teens understand and manage their thoughts and behaviors that contribute to the anxiety. In some cases, medication may also be recommended as part of the treatment plan. This should always be managed by a healthcare professional with experience in adolescent mental health.

Therapy for Teenagers at Medens Health

Watching your teenager suffer from anxiety can be heartbreaking and nerve-wracking, but the important thing to know is that anxiety IS manageable. With support from parents/guardians, proven strategies, and professional mental health support, anxious teens can manage and reduce their anxiety. At Medens Health, many of our trained mental health providers specialize in adolescent mental health, providing therapy to support teenagers struggling with anxiety as well as resources to help parents support their children. If you believe your teenager is struggling with anxiety, reach out to Medens Health to learn how we can help.

Call or text (833) 624-5400, fill out our contact form, or get started here.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information this blog provides is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.