By Logan Bledsoe
Anxiety is something that all teenagers have to deal with. The pressures of school work, social interactions, and life in general is enough to put pressure on almost anyone. With that said, how much anxiety and stress is too much? This is a topic that has been well documented in today’s era.
Anxiety is not just feeling anxiousness. As everyone knows, the body has a “fight or flight” response to stressful or dangerous situations. Most healthy brains can regulate this after the stressful situation has resolved or concluded, but people with anxiety may be in that “fight or flight” mode for hours, days, or in extreme cases…weeks.
According to the Child Mind Institute, anxiety rates in teens have doubled since the 1980’s, and rates of depression in teens are up 37 percent. Highschoolers are also twice as likely to see a mental health professional than our counterparts from the 1980’s. These are alarming statistics, considering that before then, the anxiety and depression rates were miniscule. These only seem to be growing exponentially.
To get a clearer look at what the term anxiety means, I asked Donna McCollouch, a licensed MFT who practices Family Therapy in Benicia. McCollouch specializes in treating anxiety, depression and low self-esteem in all age groups. When asked about what anxiety is, in medical terms, she stated, “Anxiety is a state of psychological and physical distress characterized by apprehension and fear. Anxiety may be experienced in response to a real or perceived threat that is amplified by intrusive negative thoughts.” People who have clinical anxiety may experience anxiety attacks, that leave them unable to speak, think, and in extreme cases, move their body.
To get you, the reader, as close as I can to understand how anxiety feels, I interviewed a senior at Benicia High school; he wishes to remain anonymous, but he does want readers to know that he suffers from diagnosed Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Panic Disorder. When asked how his anxiety has affected him in school, he stated, “Anxiety has made it hard for me to focus at school and has gotten in the way of my completion of numerous assignments and has also negatively impacted my attendance and participation in events at school. Anxiety gets in the way of my day to day life and brings numerius symptoms along with it. Anxiety has affected my relationships with friends and family, my self image, and my thought pattern in negative ways.”
We all get anxious sometimes, but for a lot of kids, it’s more than just butterflies in their stomachs. It’s a crippling disease that alienates the most familiar of faces and can make mundane, every-day tasks feel like a horror movie. If you or someone else is experiencing an anxiety attack, it is important to remember the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Breath in for 4 seconds, hold it in your lungs for 7 seconds, and then exhale for 8 seconds.
If you think you or someone you know is struggling from anxiety or depression, I urge you to talk to your school counselor, parents, or guardian.