6 Facts Parents Should Know about Anxiety in Teens

It seems to happen overnight. Our “babies” turn into full-on teenagers. Developmentally, this usually means they’re testing a few boundaries, hiding away in their bedroom, and expending enormous amounts of emotional energy just trying to fit in. It’s normal for teens to worry, feel self-conscious, and generally be a bit moody. But sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate “normal teen” behavior, the kind that inspires thoughts like, “I love you Kid, but I also want to wring your neck”  -–from “troubled” or “seriously struggling” teen behavior that’s cause for genuine concern. Do you find yourself wondering, “Is this ‘normal’ anxiety in my teen? Should I be worried about how much they’re worrying? Does my teen need therapy?”

If so, Simi Psychological Group offering teen therapy in Simi Valley has your back. Our experienced therapists and psychologists Moorpark are ready to support you, your teen, and your family as you navigate these teen years. Here are 6 facts parents should know about anxiety in teens.

Why is my teen so anxious? What do they have to worry about?

  1. Teens today face an incredible amount of pressure. As parents, it’s easy to dismiss that fact with thoughts like, “Yeah, but I was once a teen and I managed. What’s so different now?” Frankly, a lot.

Everything from academics to sports, to every other extracurricular, has become more intense over the last couple of decades.

Discussions about college prep start in middle school, and high school freshmen are reminded that grades really matter now. If your child is interested in college, the competition for admission is steep. In addition to academics, teens are told that extracurriculars matter too, and they should really get involved if they want to get into a “good” college.

Not sure about college? No problem. There are wonderful opportunities outside of college. “So what are you interested in, Kiddo? What do you want to do for a living?” Teens often feel a great deal of stress to “have it all figured out” and to have a plan for life after high school, meanwhile, they’re just trying to get through a school day without making a fool of themselves.

Teen sports have also intensified, with most serious student-athletes practicing almost year-round. There doesn’t seem to be much of an “off-season” these days.

It’s easy to see how anxiety in teens can escalate quickly as they experience these pressures, and worry about the “not good enoughs.”

  1. If your teen is not particularly stressed about grades or athletics, social media can create enough drama to last a lifetime. Everything they do or say or type can be on display, ready for instant humiliation at a moment’s notice.
a boy wearing headphones using a cell phone

Every teen just wants to be accepted and liked. It’s easy for them to experience significant anxiety about saying the “right thing” or not doing the “wrong thing.” Teens don’t want to stand out. They want to fit in.

And access to social media serves as a 24-7 reminder of what’s cool and what’s not, who’s popular and who’s not, and suggests that every other teen on the planet has it figured out. It’s almost impossible for your teen (or for any of us for that matter) to consume social media without comparing themselves to others, and in those comparisons, your teen usually comes away feeling like they just don’t measure up.

  1. Hormones. Enough said.

What should I be looking for as their parent? What are the signs of anxiety in teens?

  1. Anxiety in teens is not always easily recognized because they may be good at hiding it. Often teens who have the propensity to worry, or were worriers at a younger age, are also the teens who “don’t want to disappoint” their parents or be cause for concern. They may be the pleasers, and they may try to play down what they’re feeling. Anxiety may show up as perfectionism.

Some indications of anxiety in teens include:

  • Outbursts
  • Constant, uncontrollable, and excessive worry to the point of paralysis (inaction) or tears
  • Disturbances to their sleep or appetite
  • Increased irritability or lashing out
  • Isolating themselves socially or a change in their social interactions
  • Experiencing panic attacks- complaining of heart pounding, shortness of breath
  • School anxiety or refusing to attend
  • Physical symptoms such as tension headaches, migraines, or stomach issues

For more information on what to look for and the Simi Valley Teen therapy and other services we offer for anxiety in teens, call our team of dedicated psychologists in Moorpark at (805) 842-1994.

What else should I be aware of? What are some other risks?

  1. Parents need to know that anxiety in teens may also lead to substance use. Teens who are in distress often attempt to self-medicate through the use of drugs or alcohol. They aren’t sure how to cope with what they’re feeling, and they just want to feel better.

Anxiety in teens is also correlated with an increased risk of depression. This may be because the anxiety itself is having such an impact on your teen’s ability to function in their everyday life, that it causes this additional layer of distress.

They may also feel more alone or socially isolated. They may struggle with thoughts that there is something “wrong” with them or feel hopeless and helpless in trying to control or manage their anxiety.

At Simi Psychological Group, teen therapy near Moorpark, Ca, is available. Your trusted team of therapists will help your teen understand and make sense of what they’re going through. We offer both group therapy and individual therapy to help your teen develop healthy coping skills and build confidence.

Well now, as their parent, I’m anxious. What can I do to support my teen and help them?

  1. Understanding all of the things your teen is facing can certainly create your own sense of fear and panic! You just want the best for them. The good news is, anxiety in teens is highly treatable.

Your anxious teen needs to know that you are there to support them and that you are not disappointed in them. Let them know it’s safe to share their feelings with you, and just listen. Do not minimize or dismiss their fears (even when it’s tempting to do so with a well-intentioned, “Oh Honey, you don’t need to worry about that. It’s nothing. You’re just being silly.”).

Getting professional help also lets your teen know you are on their side, and allows your teen to feel seen, heard, and validated.

boy sitting smiles at the woman facing him in purple shirt

Whether your teen is worried about making mistakes, disappointing others, fitting in with peers, failing to achieve or perform in sports, or anxious about the not-good-enough-for-college grades,

our psychologists in Moorpark can help.

 Our teen therapy services meet your teen where they are, with treatment available in multiple modalities.

To learn more about our teen therapy Moorpark at Simi Psychological Group, speak with our team of professionals today.

Our team of qualified psychologists also offers therapy for trauma, depression, and more!  For more information, contact our office at (805) 842-1994. And for additional reading, check out our blogs about anxiety or our blogs about parenting teens!