Anxiety: How is it affecting teenagers?

Sentiments due to anxiety expressed by teenagers attending Imperial High School this year. PHOTO COURTESY OF IMPERIAL HIGH SCHOOL

Imagine having sweating palms, lightheadedness, a loss of breath, irritability and a rapid heartbeat, all in the span of a moment that is sudden and uncontrollable. All that seems unthinkable right? Well, many people know that teenagers are notorious for exaggerating their issues, but for some teens, their problems in life stem from more than just teenage angst.

Anxiety it is the unseen weight that many teens carry with them from a young age. It is mere insecurity for some, and a mentally crippling disorder for others. Anxiety affects people’s social skills, often causing sufferers to have panic attacks which can become extremely debilitating and draining.

WHAT"S THE CAUSE?

Well, consider the facts that teenagers face a multitude of daily stresses. An anxiety-prone teen may be dealing with loads of school work, high expectations from their parents or guardians to excel both academically and socially, applying for college, and on top of all that possibly taking care of siblings or holding up a job.

All this becomes mentally and emotionally difficult for any person to manage, and to assume that people with anxiety disorders can juggle it all is insane.

This disorder definitely affects teenagers emotionally, and often becomes a continuous part of their life.

Dav Faris, a junior at Imperial High, commented from personal experience on the topic.

“I think that (the severity of) anxiety depends on the person,” she said. “Certain triggers need to be talked about because they make kids feel like they can’t be social.”

This is a very common feeling that teens have, and it is true that there needs to be a more open and honest discussion between teenagers and adults about mental health. If, as a community, schools became more active in assessing not only the levels of stress in their students, but also the outside influences that might be contributing to the stress, then teenagers might have an easier time dealing with anxiety issues themselves.

In a recent UCLA survey given to students of Imperial High School, students were asked to complete several questionnaires in which they rated their level of stress in direct correlation to the amount of support that they receive from their parents or guardians and their peers.

Savannah Woodward, one of the students who participated in the survey, commented on her personal level of stress.

“I suffer from stress and it always puts me on edge when I’m rushed in class to get work done,” Woodward said. “Knowing how stress feels, I think people should be more understanding of those that suffer from anxiety because they need someone to be there for them.”

SUPPORT IS WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS

For teenagers, this can feel like an impossibility when their parents, teachers, or peers aren’t willing to talk about their anxiety issues. Without people to tell anxious teens that they can get through their problems, many teenagers feel lost and often don’t find a way to happiness and peace.

There needs to be a shift in the way we communicate about our feeling and private issues. Anxiety is rooted in this sense of shame and secrecy. Often teens feel that their problems aren’t even significant enough to be heard.

Kim Walther, a prominent teacher at Imperial High gave her view on her experiences with anxious teens.

“From what I’ve seen, most often anxiety will cause (students) to avoid situations which trigger their stress and this can lead to isolation,” Walther said.

When asked what she thought others should know about teens with anxiety, she responded, “Teens often come to me in distress and have trouble realizing that they can make it through their troubles successfully.”

This is a lesson that everyone can learn from both teenagers and adults alike. People need to realize that they can overcome any negative aspect in their lives, including anxiety. They shouldn’t give up on themselves even when they feel like nothing will get better. As much as it is important for those around teens to be aware and supportive of them, it is also up to the teenagers themselves to take action against their own issues.

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