Anxiety Disorders in Teens and Young Adults

Did you know that an estimated 31.9% of adolescents suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder? And while the condition enjoys a high treatment success rate, the percentage of those who actively seek professional help for anxiety disorders is very low. In fact, only 1 in 5 teen sufferers actively seek professional help for their condition.

Characterized by intense and excessive amounts of nervousness, worry, and fear, anxiety disorders can affect the day-to-day workings and functioning of the sufferer.

However, given that anxiety disorders are highly treatable, it is indeed unfortunate that the level of awareness about the condition is very poor among the general population.

Which means, most sufferers of anxiety disorders, of which adolescents form a substantial percentage, continue to suffer through most of their childhood, and well into their adulthood, in silence.

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

Genetics can be a contributing factor in developing an anxiety disorder. This is especially true if the condition runs in the family. On top of this, some teens are more prone to developing the condition after undergoing a stressful event.

The divorce of parents, the loss of a loved one, a traumatic accident, or too much pressure to excel in academics or sports can lead to anxiety.

anxiety disorders in teens and young adults

Different Forms of Anxiety Disorders Among Young Adults

Anxiety disorders among young people can be classified under different types. Primary among these include the following:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Teens and young adults often face a lot of pressure at school, from their parents, or within their immediate social group. Sometimes it is about excelling in a particular arena, or it could be over their actions and behaviors. This can lead to excessive worrying—even about the smallest of issues.

Common symptoms to watch out for:

  • High-strung and restless.
  • Unable to focus or concentrate.
  • Highly fatigued.
  • Difficulty in sleeping or suffering from disturbed sleep.

Panic Disorder

This condition is characterized by unexpected yet reoccurring panic attacks which cause the sufferer to experience sudden and intense episodes of fear or a feeling of doom. Panic disorder, if left untreated, can cripple the social and relational life of a young person.

Common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Elevated heart rate.
  • Feeling of choking or experiencing chest pain.
  • Excessive sweating and trembling as well as having difficulty in breathing.
  • Dizziness, a numbing or tingling feeling in the arms and legs.
  • Gastric distress (abdominal pain, cramping, gas, nausea, indigestion, etc.).
  • Unexplainable fear of dying.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is more common among young children and teens. The fear of separating from a parent or caregiver or someone with whom they enjoy a strong emotional bond can trigger separation anxiety.

Common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Excessively worrying about losing the parent, caregiver, or loved one.
  • Excessively worrying about an impending departure of the loved one.
  • Avoiding activities which require separating from the parent or loved one.
  • Headache, nausea and vomiting, sweating.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by a strong and often crippling fear of being embarrassed or humiliated when in social events or gatherings.

An adolescent might fear saying or doing something which could cause them embarrassment. An estimated 15 million people in the US suffer from this condition and the onset age is during the early teenage years.

Common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Avoiding social gatherings, which could include going to school, or other social events.
  • Fear meeting new or unfamiliar people.
  • Worry they will be judged or scrutinized by other people.
  • Worrying for days about attending an upcoming social event.
  • Nausea, excessive sweating, rapid heart rate, dizziness, and difficulty speaking in front of others.

Treatment is Available

Adolescents suffering from anxiety disorders don’t have to suffer in silence. With timely intervention, including professional counseling, medication management, and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), an anxiety disorder can be effectively treated.

How Doorways Can Help

The world we live in today is ever changing. The pressures and challenges that young folks undergo as they carve out their individual identity can leave them vulnerable. Here at Doorways, our aim is to help our patients overcome some of these difficulties and to help them live strong and healthy lives.

We understand the degree of distress can be different for everyone. The best way to address individual triggers and symptoms of different forms of anxiety disorders is to create customized programs for every young person who comes to us. Some of the programs we offer include individual and family counseling for teens and young adults between the ages of 13-25.

We also offer an Intensive Outpatient Program for OCD and Social Anxiety. This program provides counseling in a small group setting and is open to adolescents between 13 and 18. This approach is very helpful in alleviating symptoms of anxiety, especially when these symptoms are interfering with school attendance and/or daily functioning. To find out more, visit our IOP page HERE.

If your child or someone close to you is suffering from an anxiety disorder, please connect with us at Doorways. We can help to identify the underlying cause of the condition and provide professional counseling and help. You can always give us a call at 602-997-2880.


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