Teenagers may seem like they’re in the prime of their lives, but there is more than what meets the eye. Many high school students feel like they’re carrying the world on their shoulders and it’s preventing them from enjoying the days of their youth. Sometimes, these heavy feelings weighing them down may last for several hours, while for others, it could go on for days. If it is chronic, therapy may be required.
In the case of one junior high student at the City High named Amanda Aaberg, she found herself feeling this way constantly. She has had frequent panic attacks before, and she had already grown accustomed to them, so she was able to recognize that what she was feeling was entirely different. It was unlike anything she’s ever felt before; it felt heavier, and it never seemed to stop.
Amanda recalls experiencing panic anxiety episodes so severe that she needed to visit the hospital during the wee hours, four times, at that. However, her time spent confined in the hospital were of no help to her worsening condition. According to her account, the staff at the hospital “get almost everything [she] utilized to help settle [herself] down.” The only thing she could do was pace around her room and drink glasses of cold water.
National Institute of Mental Health confirmed the most usual mental issue has to be anxiety mental disorders. In the United States alone, approximately forty million people of 18 years old and over suffer from anxiety-related issues. This already takes up to eighteen percent in the general public. Treatments for these disorders do exist and are accessible. However, one-third of this statistic is reported to have received treatment.
“For a teen with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety tends to worsen over time and can interfere with daily activities such as school work, relationships, and sleep,” said Dr. Laura Markley, MD.
Anxiety generally stems from a multitude of factors, such as genetics, the chemicals that make up your brain, and major life events. That does not mean to say that anxiety is not capable of manifesting randomly—it’s been established that often, anxiety, stress, and depression happen without any given reason. Anxiety and depression particularly often go hand-in-hand. This can deter a lot of people from carrying on with their lives—it can affect their work, their relationships, and their general disposition.
“Understanding exactly why these trends are on the rise is always a challenge,” said Jean Twenge, PhD. “But since the trends are pretty large in a fairly short period of time, that helps us narrow what the likely cause might be.”
Even after Amanda had been discharged and was going back to school, she found herself even more tense, and it was even interfering with her responsibilities. Although her problem had been addressed, she was unfortunately not receiving the proper help to ease her woes. The people around her hadn’t an idea how to act around her either, as Amanda’s issue was something that was either an unfamiliar topic or was too uncomfortable for them to approach. Up to this day, Amanda still cannot determine what the root of her anxiety is.
Amanda has spoken out about her experiences, and she seeks to raise awareness about it, especially in regards to educating people on how to mingle with someone who suffers from these disorders. “It’s not the same for all,” Amanda emphasized, “Since you will get some ideas on being depressed and anxious, you don’t. You can’t tell someone, ‘stop freaking out!’ that’s not on how it actually works.”
Someone with depression might be passed off as someone who’s ‘down with the blues.’ But depression, which is the feeling of being severely despondent, lasts much longer than that, and for some, the battle never ends. If these feelings start becoming a hindrance to your normal life, this is when it is typically labeled the clinical depression.
“When someone is depressed or anxious, they typically get stuck in a negative feedback loop where they have negative thoughts that lead to avoiding activities and social interactions,” Dr. Sarah Allen, PhD, LCPC, said.
There is an increasing number of high school students reported to be suffering from symptoms of depression. Choosing a college and planning for the future are two of the more commonly cited reasons for students’ anxiety and depression-related problems. However, a major culprit to point out is the stress of their everyday lives. There is a fine line that borders between motivation and pressure, and unfortunately for these poor kids, that line can be too easily crossed.
“I think anxiety and stress coming from college preparation are always consistent — because making decisions on what school or college to go and the whole application process,” says guidance counsellor Tom Carey, who has been in his field for twenty years.
Professionals advise that adults should look out for the common symptoms of anxiety and/or depression that their children may be going through. Sincere and positive reassurance, as well as encouragement and constant communication with parents, teachers, and close friends, can go a long way. Though treatments require intensive and long hours of assessment, the most valuable thing one can do in the meantime is to provide a sturdy support system.