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Anxiety in Adolescents

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

Anxiety is a condition that causes you to feel extremely worried or nervous. The feelings are so strong that they can cause problems with your daily activities or sleep. Anxiety may be triggered by something you fear, or it may happen without a cause. You may feel anxiety only at certain times, such as before you give a presentation in school. Anxiety can become a long-term condition if it is not managed or treated.


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone call if:

  • You have chest pain, tightness, or heaviness that may spread to your shoulders, arms, jaw, neck, or back.
  • You feel like hurting yourself or someone else.

Call your doctor or therapist if:

  • Your symptoms get worse or do not get better with treatment.
  • Your anxiety keeps you from doing your regular daily activities.
  • You have new symptoms since your last visit.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines may be given to help you feel more calm and relaxed, and decrease your symptoms. Medicines are usually used along with therapy.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Cognitive behavior therapy

can help you find ways to feel less anxious. A therapist can help you learn to control how your body responds to anxiety. The therapist may also teach you ways to relax muscles and slow breathing when you feel anxious.

Manage anxiety:

  • Talk with someone about your anxiety. You can talk through situations or events that make you feel anxious. This may help you feel less anxious about things you have to do, such as giving a speech. You may want to talk to a friend, sibling, or teacher instead of a parent. Find someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Choose someone you know will listen to you and offer support and encouragement. Your healthcare provider may also recommend counseling. Counseling may be used to help you understand and change how you react to events that trigger symptoms.
  • Find ways to relax. Activities such as exercise, meditation, or listening to music can help you relax. Spend time with friends, or do things you enjoy.
  • Practice deep breathing. Deep breathing can help you relax when you are anxious. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths several times a day, or during an anxiety attack. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Create a regular sleep routine. Regular sleep can help you feel calmer during the day. Go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. Do not watch television or use the computer right before bed. Your room should be comfortable, dark, and quiet.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, whole-grain breads, and cooked beans. Healthy foods can help you feel less anxious and have more energy.
    Healthy Foods
  • Be physically active throughout the day. Physical activity, such as exercise, can increase your energy level. Exercise may also lift your mood and help you sleep better. Your healthcare provider can help you create an exercise plan.
    Black Family Walking for Exercise
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase anxiety. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Do not have caffeine. Caffeine can make your symptoms worse. Do not have foods or drinks that are meant to increase your energy level.
  • Do not use drugs. Drugs can increase anxiety and make it difficult to treat. Talk to your healthcare provider if you use drugs and need help to quit.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

Follow up with your doctor or therapist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.