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What are Common Causes of Anxiety in Teenagers?

by Rachel Cohen

Many people find the teenage years to be rough. They’re in the stage where they’re trying to maintain relationships, manage puberty, and keep up with school and extracurriculars. These years can be exciting, but they can also cause a lot of anxiety.

Many teenagers may experience anxiety about their social relationships, their grades, and what they want to do in the future. Anxiety can make things even more challenging, and it’s hard to know how to manage it. If you want to help your teenager navigate their anxiety, read on to learn about common causes of anxiety and how to get help.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a mental health condition characterized by fear, excessive worry, and avoidance. People who experience anxiety may find the condition debilitating. Among adolescents, research indicates it’s the most common mental health disorder.

If you have a teenager who’s dealing with anxiety, consider providing them with support and mental health treatment. Untreated anxiety in childhood and adolescence can persist into adulthood and lead to adverse outcomes.

Common symptoms and signs of anxiety in teenagers include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Restlessness
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hyperventilation
  • Fears of negative evaluation
  • Fear of judgment or embarrassment
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Muscle tension
  • Sweaty palms
  • Fear of being harmed
  • Avoidance or isolation
  • Irritability

If you notice these signs or symptoms in your teenager, it may be a sign to increase their level of support or get them mental health treatment.

What Causes Anxiety in Teenagers?

Anxiety in teenagers can have various causes, ranging from environmental to genetic factors. Learning about the root causes can help your teenager find the appropriate treatment.

School Performance

Many teenagers have anxiety about school performance. School performance anxiety can range from anxiety about completing assignments, test-taking, and college preparation. Some teenagers may struggle with perfectionism and have difficulty managing their anxiety about getting good grades.

Anxiety can manifest in excessive worrying about their future or lead to a shame spiral when they get less-than-ideal grades. Providing support for teenagers who have school performance anxiety is essential for helping your teenager thrive.


There’s some evidence that suggests that genetics can influence the development of anxiety in adolescence. For example, a review on the heritability of generalized anxiety disorder found that there is a 30% genetic risk of heritability.

If you have a family history of anxiety, it’s essential to be aware of the genetic influences of anxiety. Learning about the signs and symptoms of anxiety and recognizing those in your teen can help them obtain support when they need it.

Hormones and Puberty

Hormones changing and adapting to puberty can cause anxiety for teens, often related to their bodies. Puberty can change your body and brain and is a time when teens may be susceptible to developing social anxiety disorder, according to research.

Your teenager may be anxious about the social, emotional, or bodily changes they are experiencing. If you notice that your teen is having social anxiety or other worries about their body during this time, consider providing support by getting them counseling or medication.

Pressure and Expectations from Others

Relationships with parents and teachers influence teenagers’ lives. Research suggests that when a teen performs well in school, this can lead to increased pressure from teachers and parents.

Subsequently, when a teenager feels pressure from parents and teachers and doesn’t perform well, this can create conflict within the family system. This pressure may cause anxiety and other mental health problems, especially when teens feel like they may be letting their families down.


Depression in teenagers often occurs with anxiety disorders. Research indicates that depression and anxiety in adolescence are highly comorbid with each other. Teens who have relational difficulties with their peers may be at a higher risk for anxiety and depression.

Global Events

The state of the world can lead to increased anxiety among teenagers. Access to constant news and images of world events on social media can lead to fear and anxiety. They may worry that something will happen to them or their loved ones.

How to Provide Support for a Teenager Dealing with Anxiety

If you have an anxious teenager, there are some things you can do to help them find support and treatment.

You might consider:

  • Visiting a medical professional to start them on medications that can help alleviate anxiety
  • Finding the support of a trusted mental health professional who can work with your teen on anxiety
  • Providing support and validating your teenager’s experiences
  • Teaching and modeling healthy ways for your teen to cope with anxiety
  • Working with their school administration to help your teen with accommodations for anxiety if necessary

If you have a teen with anxiety and are in the Denver area, consider scheduling an appointment with WiseMind Counseling today. WiseMind Counseling can help provide treatment and support for teenagers dealing with anxiety.


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