Physical Symptoms of Anxiety in Teens

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The number of teens diagnosed with anxiety has increased over the years. According to the CDC, the number of children between ages 6-17 who have ever been diagnosed with anxiety has increased since 2003. Between 2016-2019, 9.4% of children suffered from a diagnosed anxiety condition. Back in 2003, 5.4% of children had diagnosed anxiety. Massachusetts saw a 50% increase in anxiety and depression diagnoses between 2016-2020.

Mental health struggles can be triggered by a multitude of factors in teens from academic work to interactions with their peers. Anxiety is not always easy to spot. But, there are some physical symptoms that teens with anxiety may experience. By staying vigilant, you can recognize when these symptoms occur to get your teen the support that they need to heal.

What Can Cause Anxiety in Teenagers and Kids?

The lives of teens and adolescents are busy. Between school, extracurricular activities, hobbies, and even socializing, they are constantly receiving new experiences and working towards a successful future. If you begin to notice physical symptoms of anxiety in your teen, take note if there are any triggers that could be causing those symptoms. For example, you may notice changes in your child’s behavior surrounding events that require public speaking or surrounding major tests at school.

Always be open to communication. Your teen may even want to express what is causing their anxiety. Adolescent anxiety may come from more than one trigger. Whatever the case may be, it is important to encourage open discussions on how your teen is feeling.

What Are the Physical Symptoms of Anxiety?

There is a lot going on at any given moment in teenage years. Academic stress, trying to fit in with peers, and discovering oneself are all new experiences that present challenges for teens. Intense feelings of stress and anxiety can be exacerbated by these new experiences, causing unwanted symptoms that harm teens mentally and physically.

For parents, guardians, and other loved ones, it may be easiest to recognize the physical symptoms impacting a teenager. Internal battles with mental health are not always easy to recognize. But, noticing physical symptoms of anxiety can help you notice when your teen is struggling and may need to seek anxiety treatment with mental health professionals.

Some physical symptoms triggered by anxiety include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Chest Pain
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Numbness
  • Panic attacks
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking
  • Stomach pain & gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Sweating

You may also notice irritability, nervousness, and difficulty concentrating. Symptoms of anxiety could worsen if left untreated. There are plenty of treatment options available across Massachusetts for teens to help cope with stress and anxiety. Outpatient treatment allows your teen to learn coping skills without taking them out of academics and daily activities. This may also be the most effective way for them to practice coping skills while continuing to seek treatment.

How Can You Reduce the Physical Symptoms of Anxiety?

Patients must first identify their anxiety symptoms and possible triggers in order to relieve those symptoms. Seeking help from a mental health professional is a great way to receive expert advice on coping skills to practice based on each teen’s unique mental health. Mental health professionals can also determine if a patient would benefit from anxiety medications, psychotherapy, CBT, or exposure therapy. 

On a regular basis, teens can practice breathing exercises, physical exercises, a healthy diet, peer support, and more mindfulness activities to alleviate anxiety and stress.

Does Anxiety Cause Life Threatening Symptoms?

While anxiety itself is not life threatening, the physical symptoms of anxiety, especially untreated long-term anxiety, could be detrimental to a teen’s physical wellbeing. Untreated and long-term anxiety causes the physical symptoms of anxiety to worsen in some teens, weakening their immune system, increasing blood pressure, causing heart problems, and more physical health issues. These issues could continue for years and decrease your teen’s overall physical health. For this reason, anxiety should never be left untreated. Any signs of physical symptoms should be taken seriously and addressed immediately to avoid the risk of worsening.

How to Help Your Teenager Cope with Anxiety and Stress

Parents of teens struggling with anxiety can serve as their support system as they undergo treatment and learn to develop coping skills. A strong support system can encourage your teen as they work hard to improve their mental health. Always be open and understanding as to how your child is feeling. In some instances, you may also encourage them by joining them in activities that help reduce stress and anxiety, such as yoga classes or other physical activities. 

Make sure your teen has time set aside each day to work on their mental health, whether through physical activities or time to practice relaxation techniques. You can also look into outpatient treatment for your teen to help relieve their anxiety. Unlike residential treatment, outpatient treatment allows teens to privately seek help from mental health professionals while still going to school, work, or other daily activities.

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