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Teen Anxiety | Signs to Spot for an Improved Outcome

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Teen Anxiety | Signs to Spot for an Improved Outcome


Anxiety isn’t just an “adult thing.” It can weigh down your teenaged son or daughter as well. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, teen anxiety is an all all-consuming issue. Aside from all the changes that come with adolescence, there are so many pressures emanating from school and society. Even productive activities like leaving high school for college and choosing what to wear to the prom can trigger worrying, and complicated with other challenges, such as anxiety, can prove even more difficult.

Anxiety needs to be faced squarely with parental/adult help because it can affect them in a most dramatic way. It can leave a dent in their psyche. It can alter their perspective of life. It can change how they think and see the world. It can mar their future and health. The negative impact of anxiety is something that you want to spare your teen from. With your unconditional love and undying support, can there be someone who can offer better help? Yes, there is – a qualified and caring behavioral health professional.


Why are Teens at Risk?

Adolescence is a developmental stage that will see your child transform into an adult. The changes will be enormous – from the physical change in size, reproductive changes and changes in their neural connections, to the emotional and behavioral changes. All these changes during the transition set the stage for anxiety. While these changes are typical, overlooking their vulnerability is a mistake.

For instance, sexual or reproductive maturation is natural, but its development rate can shake your teen’s confidence, if they perceive they are different from their peers. Pimples and a little body fat are not that worrisome, but these can take a heavy toll on their self-esteem. Understand that because this is the time when peer approval weighs more heavily than anyone else, including you, they tend to seek out approval and acceptance from them. Thinking that being different may cause them to be unacceptable, they may do their best to look and behave like them, even defy you to be “in.”

Have you heard of: “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are?” Driven with the desire to discover their self-identity and to be accepted by their peers, this is also the time when they will seek out peers and join cliques. Thinking that who they associate with defines them or announces to the world who they are and being perceived different can be detrimental for their self-image and identity, they will do whatever it takes to avoid this. They will look and behave like them, even defy their parents to “fit in.”


Teen Anxiety: Risks and Dangers

Genetics has a role to play in anxiety. If anxiety “runs in the blood,” meaning one or more relatives – either on the maternal or paternal side – have developed the condition, your teen could have a higher risk. Scientific evidence backs this predisposition. Having an anxious parent may also contribute to the creation of a stressful environment at home, furthering the risk for your teenaged child.

If your teen had an episode of anxiety when he/she was young, the chance of developing the condition again during adolescence can also be higher. In children, the condition is commonly presented as separation anxiety, social anxiety, and phobia. If any of these early conditions have not been properly treated, the chance of carrying it beyond childhood is higher. During adolescence, some symptoms you may observe could be avoiding outdoor activities or not wanting to do things on their own (separation anxiety) and staying cooped up in their room during parties at home or having no friends at school. 

For the symptoms to be resolved, the symptoms must be assessed, and the condition treated. Without treatment, anxiety can be carried into the adulthood. Aside from its serious repercussions during high school – not having a social life, possibly poor academic performance, poor self-esteem, etc. – it can also ruin so many opportunities once they become adults. They can channel their fears into unhealthy habits – smoking, drinking and drugs.  They may be so obsessed with perfection or become a “Yes” man or woman in their eagerness to be accepted at the school, and later in the workplace. They can also be prone to eating and mood disorders, such as depression.


Spotting the Signs of Teen Anxiety

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of anxiety in teens can be challenging for several reasons. One, these can be indistinguishable from the typical teen behavior, such as being moody. Two, most symptoms are non-specific or almost “universal.” Three, the condition has no specific triggers that will tell what’s about to come. Four, you are left in the dark” because your teen may not be telling you how they feel as they perceived you to be their “worst enemy” with all your restrictions.


According to Parents Reach Out, some teen anxiety signs and symptoms are:


  • Extreme fear or worry about specific situations, or everyday life
  • Saying their mind is racing and they can’t think straight
  • Inability to concentrate or poor memory
  • Avoiding new and difficult situations
  • Avoiding social situations, being socially isolated or extremely shy
  • Always being on edge or nervous
  • Being constantly tired and unable to sleep.


Know that because there are several types of anxiety, there are hundreds of possible manifestations. For example, the condition may also show in their physical health. Are they complaining of some discomfort, but their doctor could not find anything wrong with them? Pushing your worry aside can be a mistake. Take your child to a good therapist or counselor who is trained in the diagnosis of emotional conditions. These are some physical symptoms that your teen may incessantly complain about:


  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeats and sweating
  • Shallow breathing and shortness of breath
  • Restlessness and shaking
  • Dry mouth, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Insomnia.


Take Action Now with CCS

With your teen’s constant ranting and grumbling, ignoring them is something that you may have painfully perfected to minimize the potential for an argument. While this may work effectively from to time to time, it may also dangerously take your attention away from the core of their emotional issue – anxiety. With all the changes and the challenges that they could be experiencing, having anxiety can result in adolescence being more difficult for them and you.

During adolescence, it is natural for them to want to explore outdoors and varied activities alone or with friends. If they are reluctant to venture out, constantly avoiding people, or they’re not eating or sleeping properly, take them to a qualified professional. If they are exhibiting other unusual behaviors, don’t ignore these signs – these could be signs of teen anxiety. Because there are hundreds of possible signs and symptoms, the best way to have them assessed is through the assistance of a skilled counselor/therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC.

Adolescence can be among the best years of a person’s life. While your teenager is experiencing it, help them build a satisfying future. Understand their teen challenges. You can do this by ensuring that they will not develop anxiety or if they already have the condition, that the symptoms can be resolved, so it won’t persist beyond adolescence. Do something proactive for your child as they journey towards adulthood – seek teen and anxiety counseling. Call CCS – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC today. A right fit independently contracted counselor/therapist will be happy to help you and your teenager.

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services

Counties: Cumberland, Bladen and Sampson Counties, NC
Areas: Fayetteville NC, Ft Bragg NC, Pope Field NC, Sliver City NC, Linden NC, Bowmore NC, Autryville NC, Bunnlevel NC, Erwin NC, Dundarrach NC, Pineview NC, Rex NC, Lemon Springs NC, Johnsonville NC, Eastover NC, Stedman NC and Wade, NC
Zip Codes: 28311, 28395, 28390, 28356

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Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office, Fayetteville, NC

422 McArthur Road, Suite 2
FayettevilleNC 28311

Our Mailing Address:

PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Choose your Therapist

  • Becky Clark, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Anxiety, Depression, Individuals, Couples, Geriatrics, Criminal Justice, Stress Management, Loss and Grief related to death, disability, divorce, deployment, “empty nest”, retirement and other major life transitions
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare, and Cash

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Fayetteville, NC