Anxiety in Children and Adolescents

Anxiety is a common mental health symptom in children and adolescent. According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that 7.1% of children between the ages of 3-17 (approximately 4.4 million youth) have diagnosed anxiety.

Anxiety can be triggered or worsened by stress, but can also happen without a specific cause or reason. There are several different types of anxiety including generalized anxiety, social anxiety, separation anxiety, phobias, and panic disorder, among others.

Anxiety can present in different ways for different people, including excessive worry, increased irritability, poor sleep, poor appetite, restlessness, feelings of being on edge, rapid heart rate with shortness of breath, overthinking, and avoidance of things that worsen feelings of anxiety.

Though younger children can present with many different symptoms of anxiety, common presentations in younger children include fear of being separated from a loved one or caregiver, irritability, and/or avoidance of school. The AACAP Anxiety Resource Center offers information on anxiety disorders and their treatment including an article on Anxiety and Children about anxiety symptoms, treatment, and other resources.

Anxiety in adolescents often presents with excessive worry, restlessness, poor sleep, loss of appetite, and irritability, though they can also present with a wide range of anxiety symptoms. Coping skills can help decrease the severity of anxiety symptoms. Learn these 13 Coping Skills for Teens: Anxiety, Stress, Depression.

Treatment for anxiety includes talk therapy and/or prescription medications. Primary care doctors and psychiatric providers can both prescribe medications to treat anxiety. Psychology Today is a free website that provides help finding a talk therapist.