Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 285-292

First online:

Existential Anxiety in Adolescents: Prevalence, Structure, Association with Psychological Symptoms and Identity Development

  • Steven L. BermanAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Central Florida Email author 
  • , Carl F. WeemsAffiliated withUniversity of New Orleans
  • , Timothy R. StickleAffiliated withUniversity of Vermont

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Existential anxiety is hypothesized to be a core human issue in a great deal of theoretical and philosophical writing. However, little is known about the emergence of these concerns and their relation to emotional functioning in youth. The purpose of this study was to examine the phenomenon of existential anxiety in a sample of adolescents. Data on existential concerns, identity development and psychological symptoms were collected on a sample of 139 youth in grades 9–12. Results indicated that existential anxiety concerns have a theoretically consistent factor structure, are common among adolescents, and are associated with psychological symptoms, as well as identity issues. Results are discussed with regard to the importance of existential concerns in the lives of youth and the need for additional research.


existential anxiety identity adjustment