Social anxiety in teens: what to look for and what can help

what to look for and what can help

During the adolescent years, many will struggle with adapting socially which is normal. These years are a time of transition, during which a child will need to learn the necessary social skills for adulthood. Yet when is a teen merely going through a natural social adjustment and when is it more serious? A social anxiety disorder can lead a young person to experience difficulties in many areas of their lives and will need to be dealt with appropriately in preparation for maturity.

Signs of social anxiety

There are a number of signs that parents should watch for if they suspect their teen may be dealing with social anxiety. Signs will often first appear in the teen’s life at home. In this case, those with symptoms may become agitated in situations involving new people, such as an individual called in to do housework. They may also have great reservations about meeting a number of social expectations, such as having friendly interactions with peers or eating out for dinner. The adolescent may be unwilling to participate in afterschool programs or extracurricular activities as well.

When pressed to be in a social situation, those with anxiety may display emotions that are inappropriate, including being irritable and argumentative about having to partake in such scenarios. Initiating a conversation and keeping it going may take a concentrated effort. He may also express desire to stay at home as a means of avoiding classes, in the form of school refusal show signs of struggling with depression.

In school situations, they may be edgy about heading into school in the morning. There may also be conflict when it comes to activities on campus with other students, such as a physical education class. The teen may demonstrate a poor self image when it comes to schoolwork or class projects. Paying attention will often be more demanding for the child than for other students. Parents and professionals should also watch for learning disabilities which may part of the problem.


If parents have noticed possible signs of a social anxiety disorder, the next step will be seeking a professional opinion. During an assessment, a mental health professional should look for a number of appropriate signs. A doctor will also need to look for other signs of anxiety disorders that may occur, so as to ensure the right diagnosis.

The specialist should also look for physical signs that may be related to social anxiety. These may include an elevated heart rate, dizzy spells or stomach pain. The teenager can also be reticent to discussing what he fears in life. Those that are diagnosed are also are more likely to be unwilling to admit that they have a problem. Theteen’s family will need to learn how they can best help their teen cope with the disorder.


Thankfully, there are a number of different therapies that can help a teen overcome social anxiety. This may include cognitive behavioral therapy, which will allow the adolescent to learn new thoughts and behaviors that will assist in better managing symptoms. Other forms of psychotherapy between a professional and the patient can also prove beneficial including family therapy or group therapy.

Family therapy can prove valuable in dealing with social anxiety. If the issue is having an impact on the family as a whole, such as constant feuding between siblings, then it will be necessary to find the right resolutions. Similarly, group therapy can provide the young client with the appropriate support that they need. Others experiencing social anxiety may be able to provide self help solutions that have worked for them. The teen may also benefit from support within the school system, such as in the form of a sympathetic school counselor.

Teens can also improve their odds of a successful recovery with antidepressant medications. These include multiple medications that are also classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, such as Zoloft, Paxil and Lexapro. Medications will need to be taken over a sufficient period of time in order to see the best results.

The young person should be monitored by both parents and professionals to make sure that prescriptions are helping to have desired effects. By taking advantage of helpful medication and the many other forms of therapy available, adolescents with social phobia can have much better odds of becoming a well-adjusted adult.

White River Academy is a therapeutic boarding school that provides teen boys with not only a great education but offers treatment help for those struggling with mental health disorders, drug or alcohol abuse and co-occurring disorders. If you would like to learn more about our curriculum you can call us at anytime at 866-520-0905 for more information.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top