Anxiety in Adolescents
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 4, 2022.
What do I need to know about anxiety?
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.
What increases my risk for anxiety?
- Stress at home, school, or work, or in a relationship
- Use of caffeine or nicotine products
- Certain medicines or health conditions
- Changes in your body or emotions from puberty
- Not feeling accepted for the way you look, think, or act
- Drug or alcohol use
What other common signs and symptoms may occur with anxiety?
- Thoughts about your safety, or about the safety of a parent
- Not wanting to interact with others in a group, or feeling too nervous to go to an event
- Stomach pains, headaches, or pain in your arms or back
- Flushed skin or sweating
- Shyness, or problems talking to people you do not know
- Muscle tightness, cramping, or trembling
- Shaking, or feeling restless or irritable
- Problems focusing
- Trouble sleeping or nightmares
- Feeling jumpy, easily startled, or dizzy
- Rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath
What do I need to tell my healthcare provider about my anxiety?
Tell your healthcare provider when your symptoms began, what triggers them, and if anxiety affects your daily activities. Your provider may ask about your past or present drug, alcohol, or nicotine use. It may be hard to talk about these habits. Honest answers can help your healthcare provider understand what triggers your anxiety or what you do to manage it.
How is anxiety treated?
Healthcare providers will treat any medical condition that may be causing your symptoms.
- Medicines may be given to help you feel more calm and relaxed, and decrease your symptoms. Medicines are usually used along with therapy.
- 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.
The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.
What can I do to manage anxiety?
You may get medicines to help you feel calm and relaxed, and decrease your symptoms. Medicines are usually given together with counseling or other treatments. Do the following to help manage your 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
When should I call my doctor?
- 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.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.
© Copyright IBM Corporation 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health
Learn more about Anxiety
- Anxiety and Panic Attacks: Symptoms and Treatment
- Anxiety Medications and Alcohol Interactions
- Benzodiazepines: Overview and Use
- Mental Health Disorders
- Anxiety in Children
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Attack
- Panic Attack in Children
- Panic Disorder
- Relaxation and Meditation
Medicine.com guides (external)
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.