Teen girl standing alone

Identifying Social Anxiety in Teens

What is Social Anxiety?

According to https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/social-anxiety-in-teens.htm. Social Anxiety is the phrase used to describe the overwhelming fear of being judged or embarrassed in public. This fear isn’t just tied to the fear of speaking in front of a large class or going to a big birthday party where you only know one other person; you can have Social Anxiety in very small groups, or just one-on-one with someone you’re unfamiliar with. When you have Social Anxiety, some places or situations may be so scary to you that you get upset just thinking about them. You may find yourself going out of your way to avoid these situations all together, which ends up isolating you from others and making your life lonely and scary.

Signs and Symptoms

Occasionally teenagers get anxious at a gathering or in a crowded atmosphere, it doesn't really mean you have Social Anxiety. Many children feel bashful or hesitant now and again, yet it doesn't impede their lives and their regular schedules. Social Anxiety, then again, interferes with your ordinary schedules and can upset things and everyday routines that make you happy.

Emotional Symptoms

  • Extreme shyness and anxiety in everyday social situations, like eating at the cafeteria table or working on a group project 
    Intense worry for days, weeks, or even months before an upcoming party or event
  • Extreme fear of being watched or judged by others, especially by people you don’t know
  • Fear that you’ll act in ways that will embarrass or humiliate yourself, like saying the wrong thing or falling in front of others
  • Fear that others will notice that you’re nervous

Physical Symptoms

  • Red face, or blushing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upset stomach, nausea (i.e. butterflies)
  • Trembling or shaking (including shaky voice)
  • Fast-beating heart or tightness in chest
  • Sweating or hot flashes
  • Feeling dizzy

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Avoiding social situations so much that you can’t join in activities that normally make you happy
  • Staying quiet or hiding in the background so that no one will notice you
  • A need to always bring a friend along with you wherever you go


Anxiety and depression are treatable, but 80 percent of kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder and 60 percent of kids with diagnosable depression are not getting treatment, according to the 2015 Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report. Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. Anxiety disorders often co-occur with depression as well as eating disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other disorders.


Like other restorative/medical conditions, anxiety disorders have a tendency to be perpetual unless legitimately treated. Most children find that they require proficient direction to effectively oversee and conquer their anxiety. Several scientifically proven and effective treatment options are available for children with anxiety disorders. The two treatments that most help children are cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of talk therapy that has been scientifically shown to be effective in treating anxiety disorders. CBT teaches skills and techniques to your child that she can use to reduce her anxiety.

Children will learn to identify and replace negative thinking patterns and behaviors with positive ones. He will also learn to separate realistic from unrealistic thoughts and will receive “homework” to practice what is learned in therapy. These are techniques that your child can use immediately and for years to come.


Prescription medications can be useful in the treatment of anxiety disorders. They are also often used in conjunction with therapy. In fact, a major research study found that a combination of CBT and an antidepressant worked better for children ages 7-17 than either treatment alone. Medication can be a short-term or long-term treatment option, depending on how severe your child’s symptoms are and how he or she responds to treatment.


The analysis revealed a link between frequent adolescent marijuana use and adult anxiety disorders. In fact, the results showed that teens who smoked pot daily and continued to do so throughout their 20s were three times more likely to have an anxiety disorder than their non-cannabis using peers. Those who barely smoked in their teens but became regular users in their late 20's were two and a half times as likely to develop the mental health illness. Teens turn to marijuana to help cope with anxiety/depression. Smoking marijuana affects people differently.

Works Cited:

Bourque, J., O'Leary-Barrett, M., & Conrod, P. (2016). 6.88 THE IMPACT OF CANNABIS USE AND EMERGING PSYCHOTIC EXPERIENCES EXPLAINED BY SLEEP PROBLEMS AND ANXIETY SYMPTOMS. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 55(10), S233.