When is it teen drama and when is it an anxiety disorder?


One of my 12 year old girls has been having a rough time over the last year. It started with her not wanting to go out with friends to crying and pleading in the AM not to go to school, crying in the nurses office and not wanting to go out of the house to go to events she would usually like (like dinner, family friends, concerts...) We usually drag her out anyway and while she spends the first 30 minutes insisting we take her back home, she does almost always end up having a good time.
Here is why I think it could be an anxiety disorder: Her brother and grandma have anxiety disorders, it does run in my family. She has always been a bit more high-strung and emotive and type A. She is a good conscientious student, she does not do this to avoid responsibilities. She has friends and is not being bullied at school.
Why I wonder about teen drama: She has always been a bit more dramatic and is now hitting the teen years with all it's hormones. I have noticed that sometimes she will be all happy and giggly with her friends or sister but as soon as she sees me the everyone-hates-me , don't-make-me-go-drama starts. She is a middle school girl.
I have been doing my best not to feed any drama and I tell her that one of the ways to fight anxiety is stay on schedule and keep busy. I downloaded some meditation on her phone and she does them almost daily. I am reluctant to go the therapist/doctor route at this time because I am worried that we would jump to medication too quick or that she starts identifying as 'anxious girl' instead of herself. She seems pretty susceptible to suggestions to me.
Any other parents of teen girls out there with similar experiences?

pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
Welcome, Frieda. It sounds to me like you're doing everything you can at this point short of medication. By chance are your daughters in sixth grade? BOTH of my kids had great difficulty making the change from elementary school to middle school. I now work in a middle school, and I see a lot of kids falling to pieces over things that they should be able to handle. I think overall young middle school kids are simply finding their footing, and the rocks slide out from under them from time to time. I think next year you will see an improvement and more maturity.


Well-Known Member
She does not sound rebellious or defiant. If this were my child would take her to a mental health professional. Nobody here will know what is wrong. Your family history is important and a psychiatrist can tell you if her anxiety seems to be severe.. If she is suddenly afraid to do things she used to do easily, it could be anxiety disorder. I have that diagnosis plus panic disorder. I also had teen drama, but the anxiety has been bad all my life. If it's that, good to get coping skills early! They are coming out with great therapy for anxiety. I wish they had this when the anxiety first hit me.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome! I would definitely take her in for an evaluation (you can always say no to medications if you want. For a long time I thought my daughter was more drama than anxious but it definitely turned out to be full blown anxiety for her.