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Anxiety In Children And Teens: Statistics

anxiety in teen boy

Anxiety is discussed so much these days that it might make you wonder if kids are truly suffering from it or if society has just come up with a new buzzword.

The fact is, anxiety in children and teens has increased in recent years. Anxiety isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a serious, complicated condition that has a real impact on today’s youth.

While there is no single comprehensive study that outlines anxiety’s prevalence in children or teens, several well-reputed studies give insight into the ways this mental health disorder is affecting kids today.

Anxiety Statistics In Teens: Is Anxiety on the Rise?

Recent studies indicate a growing prevalence of anxiety in children and teens.

For example, the Child Mind Institute’s (CMI) 2018 study, “Understanding Anxiety in Children and Teens” reported that health care providers’ recognition of anxiety in youth increased 17% in the previous 10 years.

Another study, “Epidemiology and Impact of Health Care Provider–Diagnosed Anxiety and Depression Among US Children,” found that anxiety diagnoses in children aged 6-17 increased from 4.7% in 2007 to 5.3% in 2011–2012. In the same time period, the number of children who reported ever having been diagnosed with anxiety increased from 5.5% to 6.4%.

It’s not clear exactly why we’re seeing more cases of anxiety. 

Numerous environmental and social factors can contribute to higher anxiety in children and teens, such as social media and cell phone use or distress in the family. Increased awareness might lead children, teens and parents to reach out for help more now than in years prior. Health care providers could be becoming more skilled at noticing signs and addressing them.

But if the problem is increasing, just how many kids are affected?

Anxiety In Children Statistics: What We Know About Anxiety Now

Many studies and surveys aim to gain a deeper understanding of anxiety and its impact on children and teens. Data gathered presents a range of information.

For example, based on the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, which analyzes data of over 40,000 children nationwide, the CDC reports that:

  • 7.1% of children aged 3-17 have been diagnosed with anxiety
  • Anxiety diagnoses increase with age 

CMI investigated numerous studies, which examine the prevalence of anxiety in teens and children in more detail. Their research shows that “anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders of childhood and adolescence.”

CMI’s data shows that anxiety is more common in girls than in boys. Further, 31.9% of teens will meet the criteria for anxiety by the time they turn 18. Anxiety statistics in teens broke down into the following categories:

  • Specific phobia: 13%
  • Social anxiety disorder: 9%
  • Separation anxiety disorder: 8%
  • Panic disorder: 2%
  • Generalized anxiety disorder: 2%

But scientists aren’t the only ones documenting the ways anxiety impacts kids’ lives. A Pew Research study examined teens’ perception of anxiety in their daily lives. The study shows:

  • 70% of teens age 13-17 see anxiety and depression as a “major problem”
  • 36% of teen girls and 23% of teen boys feel “tense or nervous about their day,” every day or almost every day

This overview of anxiety statistics in teens shows that anxiety disorders are affecting youth in complex ways.

Anxiety’s Link to Other Mental Health Issues

Statistics indicate that anxiety disorders often coexist with or lead to other mental health disorders.

In fact, according to CMI’s research review, children with anxiety disorders are more likely to struggle with the following mental health issues either concurrently or later in life:

  • Depression
  • Continued anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Behavioral problems

More specifically, additional mental health issues might involve school refusal, suicidal ideations, poor academic or work performance, aggression, confrontations with law enforcement, and more.

Treating anxiety disorders early can have potentially lifelong positive effects.

Early Intervention Helps

Although anxiety diagnoses are on the rise, research shows that anxiety is highly treatable, especially if it is identified early. When children and teens are given the tools to cope with their anxieties in healthy ways, they are also given the chance to prevent additional struggles later.

Typical forms of treatment for anxiety include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This involves learning to identify and alter behavior patterns in a more positive, effective way.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

This strategy allows children and teens to practice mindfulness through the development of interpersonal skills and emotional regulation.

Exposure Therapy

This involves learning to gradually face and cope with an object or situation that incites fear or anxiety.

Medications

Medications can range in type and dosage and are usually used in combination with therapy.

Recognizing Anxiety In Children & Teens

Taken together, all of these statistics show that anxiety disorders are impacting children and teens in serious ways, and treatment should be sought before conditions lead to additional problems.

But recognizing the signs of anxiety isn’t always so easy. You might wonder how to tell the difference between stress that will pass and anxiety that is deep and damaging.

Learn more about how to recognize the signs of anxiety

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