It’s normal for everyone to experience some anxiety from time to time. But how can you tell if your teen or preteen is overly anxious?

Anxiety in adolescents may present as fear or worry, and it can also cause irritability and anger. Anxiety disorders and symptoms vary from person to person, but additional signs of anxiety in teens and preteens include:

  • Excessive worrying about family, school, relationships or extracurricular activities
  • Avoidance of social situations or being withdrawn
  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Poor performance in school
  • Fear of being embarrassed or making mistakes
  • Low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence
  • Feelings of inner restlessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches and stomachaches

If your teen or preteen is displaying any of these symptoms of anxiety—and it is interfering with their school, home or social life—they may have an anxiety disorder. As a parent, there are resources available to help, and there also are simple ways you can support your child.

Seek Professional Help

Find a licensed and trained therapist for your child to see on a regular basis. Anxiety disorders in adolescents are often treated with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). “CBT teaches coping skills for managing anxiety symptoms,” says Nanditha Krishnamsetty, M.D.behavioral health medical director at Raritan Bay Medical Center. “It can help teens change their negative thoughts into a more positive way of thinking. It helps them examine their anxiety, anticipate situations that might trigger it and understand the effects.”

Spend Quality Time Together

Make sure your child knows they are not alone. Plan regular activities you can do together, like going for a walk or sharing a meal. Become engaged in their school activities and help them with homework if they are struggling in school. Set boundaries for screen time.

Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle

Making sure your child eats healthy meals, gets 60 minutes of exercise a day and sleeps eight to 10 hours a night can help manage and improve their anxiety symptoms. As a parent, you should set a good example by doing these things, too.

Be Patient

Mental health doesn’t improve overnight. It can take a few months after seeking help before your child starts to feel better. Be patient and continue to show your love and support for them on their journey to better managing their anxiety.

Next Steps & Resources:

Other resources from Hackensack Meridian Health: