How common is anxiety in teenagers?
Anxiety is common in teenagers. Young people often experience lots of change in their lives in a short period of time. And, this can increase the risk of anxious feelings and anxiety. Factors that can increase the risk of anxiety in teenagers include:
- pressure from schoolwork and exams
- being bullied
- divorce or separation of parents
- problems within friendship groups
- changes such as moving house or school
- financial or housing problems
- having a parent with anxiety
It’s estimated that 1 in 12 teenagers experience anxiety. So, if you think your loved one might be affected by anxiety, you’re not alone.
What are the signs of anxiety in teenagers?
Anxiety can cause lots of signs and symptoms. And, some of them might not be obvious to friends and family. If you’re concerned your teenager may be experiencing anxiety, you could try asking them if they often:
- feel nervous or panicked
- feel overwhelmed
- have trouble sleeping
- avoid spending time with friends and family
- have little appetite
- feel wobbly or faint
- feel tearful
- have a fast heart rate
Regularly experiencing these symptoms could be a sign that they have anxiety. And, they might benefit from getting some support.
Do teenagers get burnout?
‘Burnout’ is used to describe a range of symptoms such as feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and having low motivation.
It’s often used to describe the effects adults experience after being under long-term stress in the workplace. We don’t yet know whether teenagers experience burnout symptoms as a result of pressures in their lives from school or exams, for example. But, we do know that burnout can cause similar symptoms to those caused by anxiety.
How can I help my teenager with anxiety?
Research has shown that adolescents are less likely to ask for support themselves. Often, they need or prefer adults in their life to arrange help for them. The good news is that there are lots of things that can help teenagers with anxiety. These can include the following.
- Seeking support from school. Many schools provide mental health training for teachers and may also offer school-based counselling.
- Go online. Mental health charities like Young Minds specialise in providing mental health support for young people. Their website has lots of resources and advice for your loved one to access and read if they’d like to.
- Consider counselling. Counselling sessions with a trained mental health professional can provide young people with a safe space to share how they’re feeling. Your GP can provide further information on available local counselling services.
- Local support groups. These are confidential meetings providing an opportunity to meet other people with anxiety. And, it can be a way to share experiences and coping strategies. Your GP can provide details of local support groups that your teenager can attend, if they’d like to.
- CBT. Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help your teenager manage their anxiety. CBT focuses on how our thoughts can impact our feelings and behaviour and works to try and change these patterns of thinking.
- Applied relaxation therapy. This is another form of talking therapy, that works by helping you learn to relax your muscles at times when you usually experience anxiety.
- Medication. Your GP may refer your loved one to a specialist who can assess whether medication is a suitable option.
What are some coping skills for anxiety?
There are many coping skills and self-help tips that can help to manage anxiety in a healthier way. You could try talking about them with your teenager to see if they might help. These include:
- talking to someone they trust about how they’re feeling when they’re anxious
- using techniques to manage worries, such as a worry tree or worry jar
- practicing mindfulness
- trying breathing exercises to feel calmer
Making lifestyle changes like trying to get enough sleep, exercising, and eating a healthy balanced diet can also help to improve symptoms of anxiety.
Speak to your GP if you’re worried about your teenager’s mental health, or would like further advice or support.