Teenagers that were born premature have an increased risk of anxiety than if they were born at full term. The risk is greater the earlier gestation the baby was born at. Other factors include parenting, home environment, academic achievement, peer relationships and social media to name a few.  These problems could have a large impact on school performance and interaction with other teenagers. Anxiety can also have an effect on teenagers thinking where they perceive the fear or danger to be greater than it is. Thinking about the situation, makes them more worried and stressed.

A teenager with anxiety may:

  • Avoid situations they are scared about
  • Pulling out hair
  • Nail biting
  • Feeling worried overwhelmed and out of control
  • Afraid to take risks or try new things
  • Feeling angry
  • Has trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Always expecting the worst to happen
  • Difficulty completing a task especially homework
  • Have complaints of headache, stomach aches, racing heart and sweating


Parents of teenagers born preterm should be aware that there may be an increased risk for anxiety and indicate to teachers and mental health professionals that their teenager was born premature and to assist them with the right interventions. Supporting your teenager by encouraging them to do things they are fearful about and then praising them for doing it and using positive terms will help them overcome their fears.

Activities that can reduce anxiety in teenagers include:

  • Relaxation exercise and mindfulness techniques
  • Physical exercise
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle – eat well, exercise and sleep well
  • Spending time with pets especially dogs can help reduce anxiety

If the anxiety is severe you should seek treatment with your teenager from a Counsellor or Psychologist for treatment. Sometimes a teenager may be referred to a Psychiatrist.  Medicating is always a concern but, in some cases, medication combined with therapy is more beneficial than therapy alone. As teenagers are more accountable and aware of their behaviour, you as the parent may not be part of the treatment sessions, your respect to their privacy is paramount. Although extremely difficult for parents, let your teenager share therapy sessions with you when they are ready.  Your support and respect will be a great benefit to your teenager. 

Questions for Healthcare Professionals:

  • What is my teenager’s treatment options?
  • What side effects can my teenager expect from taking medication?
  • What activities can I do with my teenager to ease their anxiety?
  • Will the parents be involved in therapy?
  • How soon should we expect improvement?

It can be stressful for a parent wondering if your teenager is suffering from anxiety. Parents should reach out and seek help from a counsellor or doctor to talk it through.

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“You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think”
– Christopher Robin

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Disclaimer: This publication by Miracle Babies Foundation is intended solely for general education and assistance and it is it is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. It should not be used for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment for any individual condition. This publication has been developed by our Parent Advisory Team (all who are parents of premature and sick babies) and has been reviewed and approved by a Clinical Advisory Team. This publication is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Miracle Babies Foundation recommends that professional medical advice and services be sought out from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal circumstances.To the extent permitted by law, Miracle Babies Foundation excludes and disclaims any liability of any kind (directly or indirectly arising) to any reader of this publication who acts or does not act in reliance wholly or partly on the content of this general publication. If you would like to provide any feedback on the information please email [email protected].