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Anxiety in Teens


St. Joseph’s Adolescent Medicine Center in Phoenix, Arizona specializes in adolescent health and can help teens struggling with anxiety.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive worrying that is not linked to any one event or situation. It causes a teen to feel significantly distressed over any number of things—from the health of family members to tests at school and future events. It is not defined by what the child is anxious about, but instead, by how severe and chronic the anxious feelings are. Fortunately, teenage anixety can be treated. 

Symptoms of Anxiety in Adolescents

A teen with generalized anxiety disorder will worry about more than one topic and will experience anxiety in multiple situations and settings. Other symptoms include:

  • Worrying about things before they happen
  • A need for everything to be perfect
  • Ongoing worries about friends, school or activities
  • Constant thoughts and fears about safety
  • Reluctance or refusal to go to school
  • Frequent stomachaches, headaches or other physical complaints
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Clingy behavior with parents
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Becoming easily startled
  • Irritability
  • Inability to relax

Diagnosis of Anxiety in Teens

An adolescent may be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder if these symptoms:

  • Are present for at least six months
  • Cause significant distress
  • Do not subside, no matter how much the teen tries to relax or stop worrying
  • Impair functioning at home, at school or with peers

Treatment of Anxiety in Teens

St. Joseph’s Adolescent Medicine Clinic includes both an adolescent medicine physician and counselor. Our team will work with each teen and family to discuss the best treatment methods.

One treatment method for generalized anxiety disorder is counseling or “talk therapy”. Therapy is designed to help the teen understand why and how feelings of anxiety emerge. It will also teach him/her important new skills for overcoming those feelings and replacing them with healthier, more constructive behaviors.

If the teen’s anxiety does not respond to counseling, our adolescent medicine physician may recommend adding an anti-anxiety medication to his/her treatment plan. These medications can help the teen feel more relaxed and comfortable while he/she is working on learning and practicing coping skills in therapy.

Commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Hydroxizine (Vistaril)

Contact St. Joseph's Adolescent Medicine Clinic

To learn more about how our Adolescent Medicine Clinic can help your teen with anxiety, call 602.406.7564.