Statistics and facts of teenage anxiety
Anxiety, such a simple word that holds dispersed definitions and emotions. Did you know that anxiety is the most popular mental illness in the United States, affecting more than 31% of teens by the age of eighteen? The six main types of anxiety are social anxiety, specific phobia, social phobia, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. There is no one answer as to why teenagers experience these types of anxiety, but a few common causes include the pressure of living up to high expectations, social media, overthinking, and re-living a situation that caused great fear. The six diagnostics can lead to many physical symptoms including nausea headaches, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, and tremors, but they can also introduce additional mental health issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts. Anxiety is a treatable illness, yet 80% of sufferers who are eighteen and younger do not get treated. Why is that? Why wouldn’t you fix a problem that can be solved?
“A never-ending cycle of fear.”
Teenagers have come to acknowledge the word “anxiety” in a wide range of ways, whether that is by completely pushing it aside or condoning that it exists. However, to prove that anxiety influences all teenager’s lives differently, I asked four teens, whose lives are disturbed by anxiety, to respond to the exact same statement: “Describe how anxiety affects you.”
“I’d describe the feeling as a rollercoaster that only goes straight up. Like on Goliath at Six Flags when you start going up, only that feeling forever.”
“A never-ending cycle of fear.”
“When your emotions are all over the place and you’re freaking out at almost everything. Super stressed out.”
“Going through a dark cave, not knowing who or what is in there and what is going to happen next.”
Anxiety causes these four teens disparate emotions and mindsets; however, there was a common correlation amongst all the responses that allowed me to compile a rough definition of anxiety. Anxiety: a mixture of fear and stress that has the ability to overcome all emotions.
My personal experience
My initial idea of this article was to simply write about how other people get overtaken by anxiety, but progressing through my research I soon realized I have to include my personal input about this topic because I am a teenager who experiences a degree of it. Although I can not compare my anxiety to higher-level severities, I must acknowledge that it exists. My eighth grade year of elementary school was my initial undergo of having an anxiety attack. I was sitting in my school bathroom overthinking everything, which was not out of the ordinary, as I often put a lot of weight on my shoulders, but this incident was different from anything I ever experienced. I was crying so hard to the point where I was making myself sick. I did not have any control over my thoughts. Eventually, I went back into class and didn’t say a word for the rest of the day. The same situation continued happening sporadically throughout the year until one day I realized it had completely overtaken me. I was not quiet, I was not apathetic, I was not anti-social, yet that seemed to be the person I had become. One day I finally decided to talk to my mom about it. My mom: the most considerate, emphatic, loving woman you could ever meet, allowed me to learn that opening up about my anxiousness was my solution, that holding in my emotions was not healthy for me. And although my mom might not remember this day, I do. I do because after I talked about my fears and what was happening, I instantaneously felt a splash of relief across my entire body. It was as if my “old-self” had been unleashed in a matter of five minutes. In spite of the fact that I couldn’t be more overjoyed about opening up, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Why did that happen? Why was my brain thinking about things that did not matter anymore? Why was I so afraid of things I couldn’t control?”
Today, I am a sophomore in high school and I still ask myself those questions; however, anxiety’s position in my life has exceptionally improved. I still do experience the overwhelming feeling of emotions that I cannot describe at times, but I had to recognize that these instances would not disappear immediately due to my personal qualities. So for the time being, I adjusted to a few coping methods. And as a matter of fact, you are engaging in one of my coping methods right now! Not only does talking through my situation put my mind at ease, but so does writing. Writing about my fears makes me feel like I have a grasp of control over them. I am also continuously working on myself and the traits that set me back; most importantly, I work on taking the time to inform myself that everything is going to be okay.
Find coping methods fit for you
You are probably asking, “Well sure, yours got better, but will MINE?” It will get better if you allow it to get better. It took me some time to realize that I needed the extra support. I encourage you to experiment with new ways and find the ones that are ideal for you whether that is talking to someone, doing a breathing exercise, or taking a self-care day. If you feel you need more of a professional type of help, consider therapy. You deserve to find your peace, so please seek it in any way that is available to you. Remember, you are not alone in this situation. Just open up.