adolescent boy experiencing anxiety on stairs with head in hands


From mild to severe, these feelings of panic can upend your life

The Basics of Anxiety

We all feel fear or anxiety at times. But when this natural response continues and intensifies, even in situations that wouldn’t typically cause concern, that’s when the issue becomes a disorder. People with anxiety disorders often experience intense, sustained anxiety and nervousness or recurring, unpredicted panic attacks. While everyone experiences anxiety at some point, nearly one in five people in the US have an anxiety disorder, and most develop symptoms before age 21.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are not one-size fits all, and symptoms can range from mild to severe. The bottom line is: when occasional feelings of worry or fear become ongoing, intense, and pop up in situations that wouldn’t typically cause distress — it’s time to talk to someone. Individuals with an anxiety disorder often experience intense sustained distress and nervousness, and while the severity of the disorder depends on the person, everyone can benefit from help. When anxiety disorders go untreated, they can negatively impact your life at home, at school, among your friends, and in other ways.

The most common types of anxiety disorders include:

  • generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • panic disorder
  • social anxiety disorder
  • phobias
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States.

Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Anxiety by the Numbers

The statistics on anxiety disorder tell just how common this condition is among teens:

  • Anxiety disorders affect 31.9% of adolescents between 13-18 years old.
  • Of those, an estimated 8.3% of adolescents had severe impairment.
  • Anxiety disorder among adolescents was higher for females (38.0%) than for males (26.1%).
  • The average age of onset for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is 19, with 25% of cases occurring by age 14.
  • Panic disorder affects 6 million adults, or 2.7% of the US population.
  • An estimated 9.1% of adolescents had social anxiety disorder, with 1.3% reporting severe impairment.

The Origins of Anxiety

Many factors influence and combine to cause anxiety disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the more common risk factors for developing an anxiety disorder are:

These and other factors compound to make anxiety disorder more likely, the more risk factors you’ve experienced.

teenage boy with head on white board experiencing anxiety

Key Signs of Anxiety Disorder

To be diagnosed with the most common form of anxiety disorder, GAD, a person must experience symptoms most days for a period of six months.

Key symptoms of GAD, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, are:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
  • Being irritable
  • Experiencing muscle tension
  • Finding it difficult to control feelings of worry
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep

Other symptoms such as a sense of panic, heart palpitations, fixation on a particular subject or object, or intense fear are common in people suffering from anxiety disorder. Those with panic disorders are likely to avoid crowded public areas, such as shopping malls or airplanes. Some associate their frequent panic attacks with a specific location, such as a bridge, building, or railroad tracks.

If left untreated, anxiety disorders — regardless of type — can become completely debilitating. In adolescents, it negatively impacts every area  at critical developmental phase of life. Instead of participating in activities and forging relationships, teens with anxiety withdraw from real social connections and places that could trigger their symptoms. Spending a lot of time on social media feeds that insecurity and fear. The more isolated teens feel, the more likely they are to develop other mental health issues like depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and substance abuse.

adolescent boy having anxiety with hands raised above head

Anxiety Can Be Treated

Whatever the origins, however you got to this point, the beginning of your story does not dictate the ending. With the right kind of help, you can learn new ways to process trauma and healthy ways to deal with stress. In time, you can change the trajectory of anxiety in your story. Treatment for anxiety may include assistive medications in combination with therapy and the development of coping skills to help alleviate symptoms. This allows teens to establish healthier patterns that prevent anxiety from building to a point where it disrupts everyday life.

Our Treatment

Treatment at The Meadows Adolescent Center is a process that begins with a detailed assessment. This helps us get beyond troubling behaviors or symptoms to uncover root causes. We then create a personalized treatment plan that ensures your safety, promotes accountability, and provides a sense of ownership in your recovery. As you begin to put into practice what you’re learning, you’ll engage with and get feedback from staff and peers, resulting in healing and growth. We understand how anxiety-producing the teenage years can be. Let us help you understand and manage your anxiety and any related issues in order to get you on your way to the life you deserve.

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Finding the Right Fit

Need more information to determine if what we offer fits your needs? Our skilled admissions specialists can help. They will walk you through the process, answering any questions you have along the way.