Is Your Teen Suffering From Anxiety? How Do You Know? Here is What You Can Do About It

Though most teens will experience some anxiety through life, there are a wide array of anxiety disorders that your teen may be suffering from including: post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, specific phobia, social anxiety, panic attacks, in addition to the generalized anxiety disorder. Each of these problems may negatively affect their quality of life and in some cases interfere with being able to function normally in society.

Anxiety occurs in 25.1% of the 13 -18 year olds with severe forms of anxiety affecting 5.9% of 13-18 year olds. It is more common in females.

 How to tell if your teen is suffering from anxiety disorders:


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – occurs after being directly involved, witnessing or hearing about a frightening traumatic even. Symptoms: upsetting vivid memories, nightmares, flashbacks of the event, and avoidance of reminders.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – having obsessions to things, or having unwanted negative thoughts that making them anxious. They will engage in repetitive behaviors or mental acts in an attempt to reduce the anxiety they are experiencing. Examples of compulsions are:


  • Hand-washing
  • Checking
  • Tapping
  • Counting


Example of an intrusive thought could be “I might get sick touching a doorknob because of all the germs that are on it.”

 Phobias – are characterized by persistent, excessive and unreasonable fears of an object or situation interfering with quality of life and are beyond voluntary control. Some common fears for teens include:


  • Dogs
  • Swimming
  • Heights
  • Injections
  • Spiders


Social Anxiety Disorder – these teens have an intense fear of social and/or performance situations with an excessive concern about being embarrassed or humiliated. They will avoid social activities like going to parties, performing in recitals, speaking in public (doing an oral presentation in school) or even going to school.

Panic Disorder – is characterized by unexpected and repeated panic attacks, followed by at least one month of worry about having additional attacks and/or fear of something bad happening as a result of the panic attack, such as going crazy, losing control or dying. Many people feel they are having a heart attack when what they are really experiencing is a panic attack.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder – is characterized by excessive worry in an uncontrolled manner about daily life events. These worries include potential negative events in the future, minor matters, a loved one becoming ill or dying, school, and world events such as war and natural disasters.


Be aware of the fact that many teens who suffer with anxiety may also have symptoms of depression. Go to the (link to webpage on depression in teens) page to better understand how depression shows itself in teens.


Here are 5 things that you can do to help your teen:


  1. Share your concerns with your teen based on what you have noticed as signs of anxiety. Ask your teen what s/he feels is causing these signs. You may find they have an explanation. Most important you are letting your teen know that you care and can help them.
  2. Check your teen’s family medical history to know if there is any clinical anxiety that could affect your teen.
  3. Make an appointment with your teen’s medical doctor to rule out any physiological reason for your teen to show symptoms of anxiety.
  4. Make an appointment with someone who understands how to work with teens emotional issues.
  5. Keep this to yourself as a show of respect to your teen’s privacy.


One of the wonderful things about working with teens as a hypnotist is that the paradigm works well for them.


  1. Teens, naturally being in a state of hypnosis all the time, make it a quick and easy method for them to use.
  2. Teens are naturally curious and therefore willing to try working in this manner.
  3. Hypnotist are utterly uninterested in having the teen tell their story of woe repeatedly.
  4. We only work on what the teen chooses to work on respecting their wishes.
  5. We let the teen know that s/he has their own answers inside themselves and our only job is to help them to access that information so that they can easily clear it.
  1. This puts the teen in control of their own treatment.
  2. Though we can be serious if necessary, hypnotic technique is usually fun and refreshing for the teen.
  1. Hypnosis being a state of relaxation, helps the teen feel better after each session.



Some Case Histories:

I have worked with many teens who have had issues of anxiety. One of them was a 15 year old female who would not go to school for 3 ½ years. She had been in therapy for that entire time with no change in her anxiety about going into the school building. She couldn’t tell her mother why she had this problem, all she knew was that she was unable to get herself out of her mother’s car and into the building. In her case she had lost her father when she was very young and had no recollection of how important she was in his life as he was dying from brain cancer. Once she understood this and got in touch with this issue she created her own treatment plan to get back to school and finished the year with very good grades and got back to playing her beloved soccer.

I had another teen, 14 year old male that was pulling out his eyelashes, washing his hands excessively and wouldn’t go anywhere including the beach barefoot. In his case he was harboring anger toward his younger sister who broke one of his snow globes a few years previous. Once this cleared he no longer had any of the above symptoms.

I had 9 year old female who wouldn’t go on the uneven parallel bars to practice though she had a very important competition coming up. In her case her coach’s assistant was slamming her onto the bars for her practice hurting her hips. Once she got a better handle on the problem she talked with her coach and got a different person to help her onto the bars.

When we get to the cause of the problem, it can be easily taken care of in most cases and really doesn’t take that many sessions to get the work done. In each of the above situations it was a matter of two longer sessions to get the teen cleared of the problem.