Skip to main content

Teen Angst: When To Be Concerned


teenage girl with anxiety

Teenagers are often treated as adults and expected to behave as adults, but do not have the brain maturity to enable them to do so. The frontal cortex of the brain is not yet fully formed until a person reaches age twenty-five, at the earliest. This area of the brain is responsible for problem solving, decision making, rational thought processes and more. Since the frontal cortex of teenagers is underdeveloped, they innately rely on the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for emotions. Hence, teenagers are inherently programmed to make decisions and react from an emotional standpoint, not a rational standpoint. This can make navigating all the pressures of adolescence incredibly challenging, and for some paralyzingly overwhelming. It can be very difficult to distinguish between typical teenage behaviors and those that may be a cry for help. 

What Is Teen Angst?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines angst as “a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.” There is little doubt that young people experience significant anxiety, along with a whole heap of other emotions throughout their teenage years. Every young person is different, and there is no single, universal reason why a teenager may experience anxiety. Several contributing factors including certain physiological elements can play a role in its development. Teen angst is brought on by feelings of apprehension and insecurity and can be a natural part of the maturation processes into adulthood. 

When To Be Concerned

While some amount of anxiety during adolescence is to be expected, it is not healthy to feel anxious all the time. Every teenager is different and will exhibit teenage angst distinctly. There are, however, several warning signs that can help distinguish the difference between normal teenage angst and teen anxiety that needs attention, some of which could include the following:

  • Constant complaints of anxiety, depression, worry, fear, and/ or nervousness
  • Substance abuse 
  • Persistent trouble sleeping
  • Inexplicable fears
  • Overreaction to stressors (e.g., irrational anger, aggressive outburst, etc.)
  • Social isolation
  • Avoiding previously enjoyed pastimes 

Unfortunately, it is highly common for teens to attempt to manage the evolving changes they are experiencing with ineffective coping mechanisms and/ or turn to self-medicating tactics (e.g., drugs and/ or alcohol) before pursuing necessary guidance from others. If there is any concern that a teen may be exhibiting atypical behavior, it is generally best to err on the side of caution and consult a professional to ensure the teenager’s safety. There are a variety of resources that can be helpful for teenagers to learn useful coping mechanisms.

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

Close Menu
Back to top