Did you know that anxiety is the most common mental health challenge children and adolescents face? Researchers believe this in part due to physical changes teenagers undergo as they grow and learn how to navigate the world. And while some anxiety can be normal and healthy, it also has the potential to evolve into a debilitating barrier to an adolescent’s day-to-day life.

As a parent, you may be wondering how to recognize if your child is dealing with anxiety and what you can do to help. After all, adolescence can be complicated and challenging and it’s not always easy to know exactly what challenges your child is facing.

Fortunately, Canyon Creek Behavioral Health has experience helping teenagers with anxiety and we are here to share our tips to not only recognize the warning signs of anxiety disorder in teens, but also what you can do to help.

Whether you’re looking for more information on anxiety in adolescents or trying to find actionable advice on what steps to take to keep your child happy and healthy, you’re in the right place.

Understanding Anxiety Disorders in Teens

Before diving into the signs of anxiety, it’s important to understand what an anxiety disorder is as well as differentiate between its various types.

Anxiety, at its core, is a natural emotional response to stress. It is a feeling of fear, apprehension or dread about what’s to come. Anxiety can be triggered by many different situations or scenarios. It can be as simple as dreading routine social interaction or as complex as fearing one’s misplacement in the world.

Anxiety may be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating or trembling. When severe enough, it can cause extreme disruptions in one’s day-to-day life.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are many different types of anxiety disorders and understanding which one your teen may be dealing with is important to determine what kind of support they may need. Below are some of the most common types of anxiety disorders in teens:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Characterized by persistent and excessive worry about different areas of life.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Extreme fear of social situations and being judged or embarrassed in public.
  • Panic Disorder: Recurrent panic attacks and fear of having panic attacks.
  • Phobias: Intense fear of specific objects or situations.

What Does Anxiety Disorder in Teens Look Like?

Anxiety disorder is more than just the occasional bout of nerves; it can be a persistent and overwhelming force in a teen’s life. With the pressures of academic performance, social interactions, and the other many pressures they face, teens are particularly vulnerable to anxiety disorders.

Signs of Anxiety in Teens

As with many mental health conditions, the signs of anxiety may vary from person to person. However, common signs that may indicate a an anxiety disorder include:

  • Excessive worry about everyday matters
  • Trouble sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Sudden drops in academic performance
  • Physical symptoms like stomachaches and headaches
  • Intense fear of making mistakes
  • Irritability or mood swings

While some of these signs may appear to be typical teenage behaviors, their co-occurrence often indicates that it may be worth taking a deeper look.

How Many Teens Have Anxiety?

As previously mentioned, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in adolescents. Reports estimate that by age 18, about 1 in 3 adolescents will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder. Furthermore, anxiety tends to be more prevalent among teenage girls (38%) than teenage boys (26.1%).

With anxiety on the rise among teenagers, now more than ever it’s important to raise awareness and learn what to do to help teens struggling with anxiety.

Helping Teens with Anxiety

If you’ve noticed the above symptoms in your teen, you’re likely wondering what you can do as a parent to help. While different approaches may work better with some adolescents than others, we’ve found that the following steps can make a difference.

Encourage open communication

Communication isn’t always easy, and communication with a teenager can be even more challenging. Adolescence is a period of life where children begin to discover their independence, which may include your teen being more selective in what they decide to share with you. This may be in part due to fear of judgment or criticism, or simply because they want to keep their feelings and emotions private.

Regardless, it’s important that you let your teenager know that you’re offering a nonjudgmental space for them to express their thoughts and emotions without fear of criticism or dismissal.

Do not try to force communication – this goes against the idea of giving them a choice regarding their emotions and may make your teen less likely to turn to you in the future.

Remember that open communication may not happen overnight. It may take time for your teen to feel safe enough to open up to you about their emotions.

Create a supportive environment

This point goes hand in hand with open communication.

Teenagers face many pressures and scrutiny in their daily lives, whether those pressures be academic, professional or social. This can make it difficult for them to open up about their emotions and challenges at home.

Remember to let your teenager know that you care for them and their health. Remind them that no matter what, you are there to support them and do not pass judgment on their struggles or perceived shortcomings.

Set realistic goals and expectations for your teen and avoid putting too much pressure on them, as this may worsen their anxiety. Celebrate their successes (even those that seem small) to help them build up confidence in themselves and their abilities. If they fall short on their goals, let them know that you care for them regardless and still support them.

Anxiety Coping Skills for Teens

Another helpful step is to help your teen develop coping skills for their anxiety.

Start by doing research into different anxiety coping skills. This may include deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, journaling or even relaxing hobbies such as going for a walk or engaging in a creative exercise.

Consider which coping mechanisms may best help your adolescent (this, of course, should be done with your teenager). Help them start implementing the desired coping skills in their lives and after some time see whether they are having a positive impact.

Sometimes, it can help to participate in the coping skills with your teenager. This can create a deeper bond with your child as well as increase trust and communication.

When to Seek Professional Help

Unfortunately, sometimes the above steps simply aren’t enough on their own to help your teenager manage their anxiety. If their anxiety is severe enough to be interfering with their daily life or causing significant emotional distress, it may be time to consider professional help.

Fortunately, there are various treatment options available for teens with anxiety. They include:


  • Inpatient Treatment: During inpatient treatment, adolescents live in a behavioral health center while receiving intensive treatment. This can include a combination of different therapy techniques, group therapy, medication management (when necessary) and peer support. This option is most appropriate in severe mental health situations.
  • Outpatient Treatment: During outpatient treatment, adolescents receive treatment while still living at home 3-5 times per week. This type of treatment, while less intensive, still includes many of the same elements of inpatient treatment. This option is most appropriate for moderate to mild mental health situations.


Always consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your teen.

Canyon Creek Is Here To Help

Teenage anxiety remains an important issue for parents to be aware of. By now, you should be equipped to understand the signs and take some preliminary steps in helping your teenager deal with their anxiety.

Remember, mental health journeys are never easy. However, with the right tools and understanding you can be an invaluable source of strength for your teen as they navigate the challenges of anxiety.

Canyon Creek Behavioral Health, of Temple, Texas, is here to help. Our inpatient and outpatient programs for adults and adolescents provide psychoeducational services as part of our comprehensive treatment approach. Our program promotes healing, the development of healthy habits and the implementation of positive coping strategies in your daily routine.

Give us a call at 254-410-1819 or complete this form to get started on your mental health journey today.

If you think your teen is experiencing a mental health crisis, call 988 or get to the nearest emergency room.

For medical emergencies, call 911 or get to the nearest emergency room.

Canyon Creek Behavioral Health

Canyon Creek Behavioral Health is a facility that services the behavioral health needs of adults, adolescents and older adults. We provide inpatient and outpatient treatment, where we serve people from all backgrounds. Our team of highly qualified and skilled therapists are prepared to meet your individual needs. This includes treating those facing mental health issues and mood disorders such as bipolar disorder and depression.

Here at Canyon Creek we believe it’s possible to live a life of stability and purpose. Some of our services include our adult inpatient program, adolescent inpatient services and more. Located in Temple, Texas, we’re committed to being an active member of the Temple community and improving its understanding of mental health.

To schedule a no-cost, confidential assessment, please give us a call at 254-410-1819 or fill out the form on our contact page here.