Helping Adolescents With Anxiety

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Anxiety is something we all have, but too much anxiety has the potential to impact every part of a young person’s life, including their physical health, emotional well-being, and social habits. When a teen is overly anxious, they can feel isolated and misunderstood—and may have a difficult time opening up about their feelings.

Are the symptoms of anxiety the same in kids and teens as they are in adults? How can we talk to adolescents about anxiousness? And is it ever too late to seek help for anxiety?

Audience Questions

Jason Krompinger, PhD, provides tips to talk with teens about anxiety, explains the differences between types of anxiety, and answers questions about addressing stigma around the most common mental health disorder.

  • What does anxiety in kids look like? Does it differ from anxiety in teens—or even anxiety in adults?
  • What do “normal levels” of anxiety look like in kids and teens, and when is it considered more of a problem?
  • How do we send kids the wrong messages about anxiety, and how does that impact their development?
  • What are some ways that adolescents mask anxiety?
  • Are selective mutism and social anxiety the same thing? How can I tell if my child has either?
  • Do you have advice for students with selective mutism who have difficulty communicating with teachers and getting called on in school?
  • How can you tell if screen use is helping anxiety or is a form of avoidance?
  • How do you approach an adolescent who prefers to be isolated and playing video games to offset their anxiety and depressive symptoms?
  • Do you have advice for helping kids manage anxiety around COVID?
  • How do I start the conversation about anxiety with my kids?
  • Any tips to talk to my child’s teacher, coaches, etc. about any anxiety that they’re feeling?
  • What are some ways to help students with school refusal due to anxiety?
  • As a teacher, how can we help parents understand that their child may need professional help for their anxiety?
  • Do you have advice for when homework is a trigger?
  • How do you determine whether to let a teen handle their own anxiety or step in to provide support and/or encouragement?
  • Do you have advice for students experiencing anxiety around future plans?
  • How should a teacher or counselor approach the topic of anxiety with parents who grew up with cultural stigma around seeking help for mental illness?
  • How do you talk to parents if you believe the parent’s need for success and perfection is negatively affecting their child?
  • What can I do when my child continues to say everything is okay, but appears unmotivated and unengaged?
  • Do you know if substances—marijuana, caffeine, alcohol, etc.—impact anxiety levels in teens and young adults?
  • What are some healthy ways that I can help manage my kids’ anxiety, as well as my own?
  • When should I consider bringing my kid to a licensed mental health provider for anxiety?
  • What is the best therapy for anxiety-related issues in teens? Is treatment different for teens compared to adults?
  • How do you approach a child who’s refusing therapy due to having previously bad experiences?
  • Any advice for approaching a young adult who needs care, but is refusing treatment?
  • Can you share strategies teens can use outside of the home to help ground them?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


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About Dr. Krompinger

Jason Krompinger, PhD, is a clinical psychologist with expertise in treating OCD and related disorders. He serves as director of Psychological Services and Clinical Research at McLean’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute.

In his role at the OCD Institute, he serves as the director of the training program, supervising students, post-doctoral fellows, and early career psychologists in the delivery of empirically based interventions.

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Originally aired on January 27, 2022