Teens worry all the time. They are concerned about being accepted by their peers or about their grades or an upcoming test at school. Teens may wonder what to do about college and be scared of finishing high school and either going off to college or entering the work world. But there is a difference between normal worrying and an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive or irrational fears.
The following are ten signs of anxiety in teens:
- Consistent or excessive worry about school, friends, following rules or approval of teachers and parents. Although it may be normal for teens to be concerned about different parts of their life, if your teen is showing excessive worry every day for a period of time, he or she may have anxiety.
- Complaints of physical problems such as headaches, stomachaches, or tiredness with no physical cause.
- Problems sleeping. This could be having a hard time falling asleep, waking up throughout the night or waking up early. When teens feel tired either when they first wake or throughout the day, they may not be sleeping properly.
- Using self-depreciating statements, being overly critical of himself or herself or doubting their abilities. Low self-esteem.
- Continually seeking the approval of their teachers, parents or other adults in their life.
- Continually checking and rechecking schoolwork or other chores to make sure it has been completed correctly. Although double-checking work is always a good idea, if a teen never feels satisfied with work and must check and recheck their work.
- Avoidance of social activities, a withdrawal from friends or not wanting to go to school.
- Other disorders. Some common co-existing conditions may be ADHD or depression. If your teen has previously been diagnosed with either ADHD or depression, watch for symptoms of anxiety as well.
- Inability to stop the worry despite reassurances from school personnel or parents.
- Irritability, mood swings or experimentation with alcohol or drugs.
These signs are not exclusive of anxiety and just because a teen experiences some of these signs does not mean he or she has an anxiety disorder but may indicate a need to seek further help.
If you notice problems or are concerned, consult your family doctor to discuss the behaviors you have observed and discuss ways to help your teen cope with his or her situation.