Managing Anxiety (Teen)

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    Managing Anxiety, Teen

    Managing Anxiety, Teen

    After being diagnosed with anxiety, you may be relieved to know why you have felt or behaved a certain way. You may also feel overwhelmed about the treatment ahead and what it will mean for your life. With care and support, you can manage your anxiety.

    How to manage lifestyle changes

    Understanding the difference between stress and anxiety

    Although stress can play a role in anxiety, it is not the same as anxiety. Stress is your body's reaction to life changes and events, both good and bad. Stress is often caused by something external, such as a deadline, test, or competition. It normally goes away after the event has ended and will last just a few hours. But, stress can be ongoing and can lead to more than just stress.

    Anxiety is caused by something internal, such as imagining a terrible outcome or worrying that something will go wrong that will greatly upset you. Anxiety often does not go away even after the event is over, and it can become a long-term (chronic) worry.

    Lowering stress and anxiety

    A teenager meditating outdoors while listening to music.

    Talk with your health care provider or a counselor to learn more about lowering anxiety and stress. They may suggest tension-reduction techniques, such as:
    • Music. Spend time creating or listening to music that you enjoy and that inspires you.
    • Mindfulness-based meditation. Practice being aware of your normal breaths while not trying to control your breathing. It can be done while sitting or walking.
    • Deep breathing. Expand your stomach and inhale slowly through your nose. Hold your breath for 3–5 seconds. Then breathe out slowly, letting your stomach muscles relax.
    • Self-talk. Learn to notice and spot thought patterns that lead to anxiety reactions. Change those patterns to thoughts that feel peaceful.
    • Muscle relaxation. Take time to tense muscles in your body and then relax them.
    • Visual imagery. This involves imagining or creating mental pictures to help you relax.
    • Yoga. Through yoga poses, you can lower tension and relax.

    Choose a tension-reduction technique that fits your lifestyle and personality. Techniques to reduce anxiety and tension take time and practice. Set aside 5–15 minutes a day to do them. Therapists can offer counseling for anxiety and training in these techniques.


    Medicines for anxiety include:
    • Antidepressant medicines. These are usually prescribed for long-term daily control.
    • Anti-anxiety medicines. These may be added in severe cases, especially when panic attacks occur.

    When used together, medicines, psychotherapy, and tension-reduction techniques may be the most effective treatment.


    Two teens talking outdoors. One teen is sitting on a skateboard.

    Relationships can play a big part in helping you recover. Spend more time talking with a trusted friend or family member about your thoughts and feelings. Find two or three people who you think might help.

    How to recognize changes in your anxiety

    Everyone responds differently to treatment for anxiety. Recovery from anxiety happens when symptoms decrease and stop interfering with your daily life at home or work. This may mean that you will start to:
    • Have better concentration and focus.
    • Sleep better.
    • Be less irritable.
    • Have more energy.
    • Have improved memory.
    • Spend far less time each day worrying about things that you cannot control.

    Try to recognize when your condition is getting worse. Contact your provider if your symptoms interfere with home, school, or work, and you feel like your condition is not getting better.

    Follow these instructions at home:


    • Get enough exercise. Find activities that you enjoy, such as taking a walk, dancing, or playing a sport for fun.
      • Most teens should exercise for at least one hour each day.
      • If you cannot exercise for an hour, go for a walk.
    • Get the right amount and quality of sleep. Most teens need 8.5–9.5 hours of sleep each night.
    • Find an activity that helps you calm down, such as:
      • Writing in a diary.
      • Drawing or painting.
      • Reading a book.
      • Watching a funny movie.


    • Spend time with friends, especially outdoors.
    • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein.
      • Do not eat a lot of foods that are high in solid fats, added sugars, or salt (sodium).
    • Make choices that simplify your life.
    • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco. These products include cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vaping devices, such as e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your provider.
    • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and certain over-the-counter cold medicines. These may make you feel worse. Ask your pharmacist which medicines to avoid.

    General instructions

    • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your provider.
    • Keep all follow-up visits. This is to make sure you are managing your anxiety well or getting more support if needed.

    Where to find support

    If methods for calming yourself are not working, or if your anxiety gets worse, you should get help from a mental health provider. Talking with your provider or a counselor is not a sign of weakness. Certain types of counseling can be very helpful in treating anxiety.

    Talk with your provider or counselor about what treatment options are right for you.

    Where to find more information

    Joining a support group may help you deal with your anxiety. These sources can help you find counselors or support groups near you:

    Contact a health care provider if:

    • You have a hard time staying focused or finishing daily tasks.
    • You spend many hours a day feeling worried about everyday life.
    • You become very tired because you cannot stop worrying.
    • You start to have headaches or often feel tense.
    • You have chronic nausea or diarrhea.

    Get help right away if:

    • Your heart feels like it is racing.
    • You have shortness of breath.
    • You have thoughts of hurting yourself or others.

    Get help right away if you feel like you may hurt yourself or others, or have thoughts about taking your own life. Go to your nearest emergency room or:
    • Call 911.
    • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 988. This is open 24 hours a day.
    • Text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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