What Causes Anxiety in Teens?

Anxiety can be caused by many diverse factors, and we all experience it in different ways. A little anxiety is completely normal and can be a good thing—it is simply a reaction to stress. But it can become a chronic problem.

A person with anxiety worries too much about everyday events, activities and assignments. Feeling anxious for long periods of time or when stressors aren’t present (like when everything in your life is relatively under control) are signs of chronic anxiety.

Here are some common triggers in teen life to look out for, as they can increase stress and cause anxiety.



School can be extremely stressful for some teens, especially if they are struggling with course material or working extra hard to improve their grades for college. A little stress or anxiety over a big test is completely normal and can encourage you to study more, but getting so worked up that you can’t focus is a sign of a bigger problem.


Peer Pressure

Teens face a lot of pressure to fit in and meet expectations from parents, teachers, friends and themselves. High school and early college years also provide many opportunities to party and try drugs and alcohol, which may make many teens uncomfortable. The requirements to fit in may be completely against one’s nature, and the pressure can easily jump from simple stress to anxiety.



Image Mitchell Joyce


Social Situations

Social anxiety is different than social pressure anxiety; it occurs during any social situation—even an inviting and harmless one. A person with social anxiety fears embarrassment in front of a crowd or group of people, and is likely to shy away from social gatherings, including parties, school or community events, and teams or performance sports.



A traumatic experience can leave a teen feeling incredibly vulnerable and anxious. Adolescents who experienced a traumatic events in their childhood can still carry the weight years later, and will show this through signs of PTSD (depression, change in appetite and sleeping patterns, nightmares). Trauma can include rape, sexual assault, physical assault, divorce, death or accident.

Anxiety is preventable and manageable through treatment, counselling and medication. Consult your doctor or counsellor if you believe you or your teen has an anxiety issue.


Feature image Lori Greig