5 Reasons Why Teenagers are Suffering from Anxiety Disorder More than Ever Before


Research suggests that the prevalence of anxiety disorders among the teenage population has risen dramatically in recent years.

Anxiety disorder

Due to the emergence of social media platforms and the overall pressures of living in the digital age, young people get exposed to more anxiety than previous generations.

Conclusion: There seems to be a cultivation of perfection and comparison, which causes anxiety among teens rather than fostering connection and resilience.

All this can cause many mental health problems for the young, impressionable minds of children and teenagers.

Anxiety in teens

Teen depression and social anxiety are just a few mental health disorders that appear to be the most common in the teenage cohort.

Mental health issues are widespread for young adults growing up in a world where technology has many of us glued to our phones instead of enjoying friendships in real-time.

Teen anxiety

Evidence shows some key areas that illustrate why mental illness is rife among teens and college students. They include:

  • Technology such as phones and computers offer teens an escape from feeling their emotions, keeping them from building resilience.
  • The increase of anxiety problems in teens reflects societal and cultural shifts that have gotten observed over the last few decades.
  • It’s impossible to prevent all anxiety disorders in teens due to biological factors and DNA, but more could be done to help teenagers manage anxiety and foster mental resilience.

Why more teenagers are suffering from anxiety than before

Why more teenagers are suffering from anxiety than before

Mental health professionals report seeing many young people visit their offices with symptoms of panic disorder and anxiety disorder.

Research shows that anxiety among adolescents is widespread, with many psychotherapists saying that anxiety disorders are often the cause of why people of all ages, including teenagers, enter therapy.

Excessive worry

Some of the literature reported many reasons why anxiety disorders are so common among teenagers and young adults.

The reasons for anxiety disorders can vary, with many young people experiencing feelings of crippling failure and over-achievement.

Some teens worry so much about what their family and friends think they cannot function at all.

High anxiety levels

Many teenagers have endured challenging circumstances throughout their young lives, while others have functional, stable home environments with loving, supportive family members.

Cultural and societal changes

According to studies, high stress and anxiety among teens could be because of cultural and societal changes in recent decades.

Many teens feel pressure to do well and over-perform than ever before and worry that they may not be on par with their peers.

Anxiety cluster

There is a difference between normal anxiety and the cluster of anxiety disorders: panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Anxiety disorder symptoms

There are many symptoms associated with anxiety disorders which can vary according to the anxiety disorder type. However, some of the warning signs of an anxiety disorder include:

  • Having a sense of impending doom or danger
  • Feeling tense, nervous, or restless.
  • Rapid breathing
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Sleeping problems
  • Feelings of intense fear
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Tight muscles
  • Feeling anxious or nervous, particularly in social situations.
  • Increased heart rate
  • Having difficulty controlling worry where you often feel overwhelmed
  • Having the urge to avoid situations that trigger anxiety
  • Substance abuse

Many people assume that anxiety is just a feeling of being nervous or on edge. While these symptoms are often present, anxiety disorders can cause many physical symptoms and mental health issues.

Other challenges

At times, anxiety makes us feel as though we are going crazy, and often, the symptoms can be so crippling that many people feel as though they might die, particularly in cases where someone has a panic attack.

Why do teens and kids suffer from anxiety?

Why do teens and kids suffer from anxiety

There are several reasons (some of which get highlighted below) why kids and young adults are prone to developing anxiety disorders.

People with anxiety disorder symptoms must speak with a mental health professional who will help.

#1. Toxic happiness

Within our toxic positive culture, most kids and teens get taught that being happy all the time is acceptable, and unfortunately, many parents think that it’s their job to make sure that their child is happy twenty-four seven.

All this is unrealistic and teaches children that other emotions such as anger, sadness, and frustration are unacceptable.

Feelings that remain suppressed often cause people to feel anxious and depressed.

Unfortunately, many kids grow up thinking that they have to be happy all the time, and if they’re not, something must be wrong.

#2. Escaping through technology

Constant access to the internet and social media has presented many new challenges for teenagers growing up in the digital age.

Instead of addressing feelings of boredom, worry, and sadness, children pay attention to their screens and computer games.

Studies show that children in the millennia have gotten conditioned to avoid discomfort through the use of electronics.

Gaming and social media have replaced opportunities to build resilience and mental strength; thus, children haven’t gained the coping skills required to handle everyday challenges.

#3. Not having enough free time to play

While attending sports clubs and other structured social events is critical, so is unstructured play.

Playtime without the confines of a club or teacher teaches children vital skills, such as managing conflict and disagreements without being guided by an adult.

In contrast, solitary play teaches kids how to be by themselves and comfortable in their skin.

#4. Giving children excessive praise

While it’s essential for parents to encourage their children, too much praise often produces the opposite effect.

For example, when a parent tells their child ”they are the best badminton player in the class” or that they are the most ”intelligent in their school year”, this often sets the precedent for excessive pressure where kids do their best to live up to the label.

The stress associated with ”being the best” often produces profound fear of failure and rejection.

#5. Family dynamics being out of sync

As much as children and teenagers pretend to hate rules, deep down, they are well aware that they cannot always make the best decisions and require stable parental figures to guide them.

Children want their parents and caregivers to take the lead, even if they might not always agree or downright rebel against any rules put in place.

But, unfortunately, when the family dynamics are confusing or chaotic, a child’s anxiety levels can go through the roof.

Anxiety is highly treatable.

Anxiety is highly treatable

Fortunately, anxiety disorders are highly treatable conditions.

When it comes to teen anxiety, it may be helpful for individuals to speak to a family member about how they are feeling.

However, more often than not, young people require treatment to help them with their anxiety symptoms.

Recovery may come in psychotherapy where a teenager shares their feelings with a therapist and seeks to resolve any underlying issues that may be causing the anxiety.

Some young adults may benefit from mindfulness therapies where they learn about breathing exercises and effective relaxation techniques.

Treatment is highly dependent on a person’s circumstances and symptoms.

If you are a parent and suspect that your child may be suffering from anxiety, or if you are worried that you may have an anxiety disorder, then be sure to get in touch with one of our specialists who will help.

Further reading on similar topics can be found via our blog: ADHD in Teenage Girls and Young Women.

Fiona - The Wave Clinic

Fiona Yassin is the founder and clinical director at The Wave Clinic. She is a U.K. and International registered Psychotherapist and Accredited Clinical Supervisor (U.K. and UNCG).

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