Understanding Anxiety in Young People

Anxiety: We all live with it. Anxiety is a normal reaction to the kinds of pressures we encounter every day. Unchecked or out of balance, anxiety can play havoc in a your young person’s mental health.

So which is it? Everyday worries or high anxiety? The signs aren’t easy to read and are different for every child, but here’s a quick guide to help you prevent anxiety from taking over your child’s life.

Everyday Worries vs. Anxiety

Everyday Worries
Signs of Anxiety
Worry about test grades, athletic ability, romantic breakup or other important life events. Constant, nagging worry that causes anxiety and interferes with daily activities.
Embarrassment or shyness in uncomfortable or awkward social situations. Avoiding social situations for fear of being judged, embarrassed, humiliated or bullied.
A case of nerves or “butterflies” before a big test, an athletic or stage performance, or other significant event. Panic attacks out-of-the-blue, and feeling of dread or fear of having another one.
Realistic fear of a dangerous object, activity, place or situation. Irrational fear or avoidance of an object, activity place or situation that poses little or no threat of danger.
Anxiety, sadness or difficulty sleeping immediately after a traumatic event. Recurring nightmares, flashbacks or emotional numbing related to a traumatic event that occurred in the past.

Warning Signs Of High Anxiety

  • Sudden feelings of anger
  • Fighting more than usual with family and friends
  • Headaches, stomach aches, unexplained aches and pains
  • Appetite loss – or gain – or significant change in weight
  • Feeling tired without reason
  • Difficulty sleeping – or sleeping too much
  • Feeling sad, moody or lonely
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly

What Parents Can Do

If your young person is suffering from anxiety, the first thing you should do is try to understand it. Learn about anxiety disorders and treatment options. Discuss questions and concerns with a health care provider to find the best treatment options for your child.