“A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease,” as defined by the Oxford Dictionary. To a student dealing with anxiety it means breathlessness, constant fear, restless nights, and countless anxiety attacks. The reality is about 25 percent of teens suffer from anxiety according to Elements Behavioral Health. Every day I find myself walking through crowded hallways and to think one out of every four has anxiety is disconcerting.
Many teenagers who have anxiety are passed off as shy or told to “get over it.” It can be overwhelming for a teen trying to balance school, family, and a social life. Anxiety can take a toll on a person’s body. It has been linked to other mental health issues such as depression, eating disorders, and in some cases, suicide. I had the chance to speak with a few students who struggle with anxiety to get a look on what having anxiety is really like.
When asked about how anxiety has impacted their daily lives, most said that they experience an anxiety attack almost everyday. A “shy” girl said it is hard for her to interact with people she doesn’t know, making even simple tasks like asking for help in a store feel impossible. Most agree that they find themselves worrying about everything, including what others might think of them. Another student said it feels like people surrounding her were judging her imperfections.
Some students said it felt as if everyone was watching them.
Anxiety is something that can develop suddenly. When asked what the source of their anxiety is, most responded stress regarding school has been a major factor. Many students agree that they fear failing their classes. Another common source of anxiety was previous life experiences.
When asked how they cope with an anxiety attack most responded that they have no control over it. Students seemed to find their own ways such as closing their eyes and counting to ten, drinking water, or distracting themselves while avoiding eye contact. All methods help them with their breathing and keep themselves grounded.
Teenagers all over America are victims of the physical and emotional results of having anxiety. Some try to reach out to adults only to be ignored. Having their feelings invalidated only makes the problem grow worse. No one wants to have an anxiety disorder, these teenagers are not just having a cry for attention. This is a real problem that we need to address, a problem that we need to be understanding towards. Our youth’s mental health is no joke.