I feel that I am extremely nervous this year. I will suddenly feel overwhelmed by school, the prospect of college, or something in the news (particularly school shootings) and my stomach will feel sick and I can’t stop shaking. What should I do?

Sometimes people think that teenagers don’t have much to be worried or anxious about. However, as you have pointed out there are many important challenges that teens face. There are also a lot of worrisome events that are happening in our world. It makes sense that you feel nervous, and to be fair, everyone feels worried and anxious from time to time. In fact, it is healthy and normal to experience these feelings. Worry can signal to us that something is off, or unsafe at times. Worry can also be an important motivator—if we didn’t have some level of nervousness about a test, we might not try to study at all.

Like all things though, our worry can be harmful or even prevent us from being able to complete chores, schoolwork or get in the way of our relationships. When we start experiencing physical symptoms such as stomachaches, shaking, sweaty palms or trouble with breathing, it is a sign that we are too stressed and overly anxious. At this point it’s important to reach out for support and talk about what you may be thinking or experiencing. Talk to a parent(s) or another trusted adult about getting connected to a therapist or counselor who can help you learn how to cope and address your concerns. You should also tell your health care provider that you have been having these feelings. They can help you figure out other options to help get your feelings and physical symptoms under control so you can feel better.