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10 Signs My Teen is Struggling with Anxiety

Everyone (including your teen) has a little worry now and then. In fact, it can be useful for increasing energy and focus for important events like taking the ACT or playing in the state championship hockey game. 

So how do we know when anxiety is a problem? When does worry become too much? We have broken down the way doctors, psychiatrists and therapists diagnose anxiety issues in teens.  Here are ten signs your teen is struggling with anxiety.

  1. Often, excessive worry about school, friends, gaining approval of teachers and parents. While some worry is normal, if it interferes with their day (more than 2 days per week for more than 2 weeks), you may be dealing with anxiety. 
  2. Body problems, like headaches, stomach aches, tiredness – without any medical reason or physical cause. 
  3. Problems sleeping. Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up early.
  4. Treating themselves unkindly: overly critical thinking and talking, low self-esteem. 
  5. Often seeking affirmation and approval from teachers, parents, other adults in their lives. 
  6. Continually checking and re-checking homework and other tasks to make sure they’ve been done correctly. Re-checking once is not a concern, but excessive checking with difficulty believing the work is good enough may be something to look into. 
  7. Avoiding social activities, withdrawing from friends, not wanting to go to school. 
  8. Presence of any other mental illnesses. Anxiety often comes along with ADHD or Depression. If they have either of these diagnoses, watch for signs of anxiety as well. 
  9. Inability to stop the worry, even with reassurances from parents or teachers. 
  10. Excessive irritability, mood swings. Use of alcohol or drugs to cope with moods. 

If your teen experiences 6 or more of the above symptoms, there is a good chance they are struggling with anxiety of some sort. 

So what now? What do you do? 

Start by talking with them. Check in with them often. Try and help reassure them about their worries. If that doesn’t seem to help, it may be time to talk to primary care and ask for suggestions, or reach out to a therapist or a counselor who specializes in work with children and adolescents, so that you and your teen can learn some skills to help manage the anxiety. 

If you have questions, call us! We can help! 


About the author:

grand rapids counselor near ada MIKatie Zuverink is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) living in Grand Rapids, MI. She specializes in trauma work with kids and parents, and she especially loves coaching adults through difficult parenting dynamics. She also loves working with women’s issues (anxiety, depression, balancing the life of being a woman in today’s world). For more on Katie, read her full bio.





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