What are the signs of teen anxiety?

Anxiety that occurs often and with great intensity (perhaps out of proportion to the threat or challenge), or that affects your teen's ability to cope with life, can be a sign of an unhealthy condition. Anxiety has a number of physical manifestations, such as increased heartbeats, shallow and quick breathing, tense muscles, trembling, stomach uneasiness, and sweating. But feeling excessively anxious may lead your teens to shut down communication. They might see their anxiety as evidence that they are weak or have a great personal failing. Often people feeling anxious don't want to share what they're feeling because they feel ashamed, misunderstood, or fear being judged.

You might also see signs of anxiety if your teens' concerns are interfering with their usual confidence, concentration, feelings about the future, or how they eat or sleep. Other personality changes may include a new sense of hyper-vigilance, excessive worry disproportionate to the actual situation, or a withdrawal from normal activities. In addition to these general signs of anxiety, there are six identified subtypes of teen anxiety that each have some specific symptoms of their own.


Panic attacks are characterized by physical symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea, chest pains, or a choking sensation. Panic attacks usually come on quickly and unexpectedly. A specific phobia can develop, which can lead teens to avoid situations that put them in contact with the source of their phobia. When in proximity to the source of their phobia, teens may exhibit the symptoms of a panic attack.

Social Anxiety Disorder is anxiety due to social situations. If your teen feels an exaggerated fear of being embarrassed, criticized, or rejected, or if he has poor social skills or self-esteem, he/she may be suffering from this type of anxiety disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder manifests as extreme need for order, fear of contamination, constant doubt, and inability to control aggressive impulses. Finally, stress-related disorders (post-traumatic stress disorder and Acute Stress Disorder) can occur in response to genuine life-threatening or extreme experiences. In the wake of an event, your teen might experience ongoing fear, a sense of helplessness, or hyper-vigilance.