Anxiety and Depression

Allie Oniki, Staff Writer

As high school students, we’re burdened with the responsibilities of schoolwork,

extracurricular activities and relationships. It’s normal to feel nervous, uneasy, or have an

occasional mood swing. But some of us are enduring more than that. Some are going through

anxiety as a lifestyle rather than a rare occurrence. In fact, according to the National Institute of

Mental Health, 25 percent of all teens have an anxiety disorder. The girl who sits next to you in

Chemistry and laughs at your jokes might have panic disorder. The boy you sat with at lunch

could have generalized anxiety. You might be suffering from a form of anxiety as well. There are

people who understand, and there are ways to break the power anxiety has over you.

I had my first panic attack when I was in fourth grade. I sat against my bedroom door

and shook as tears streamed down my face. I could hardly breathe, which made my head ache.

I didn’t understand why I was panicking; nothing had happened that should trigger such a

response. People came in and told me to calm down, but I couldn’t respond. I couldn’t calm

down. After that, I had trouble sleeping at night. Even the thought of going to bed would cause

me to break into a sweat and hyperventilate because I knew I’d end up lying in bed for hours

until I could finally cry myself to sleep. I was angry at myself for feeling such intense fear over

little things like waking up on time and talking to my friends at school. Why couldn’t I just calm

down like everyone wanted me to? It has been six years since, and I’ve learned to understand

the hold anxiety can have over you. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you are affected by any type of anxiety, know that you are not alone. According to the

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40 million adults in the United States,

or 18 percent of the population, are affected by anxiety disorders. Additionally, one in eight

children are affected by anxiety disorders. There are many different symptoms associated with

the disorders. Some are emotional or mental, like feeling agitated, tense, or constantly worried.

Those with anxiety find it difficult to relax. There is always something nagging them in the back

of their mind. Other symptoms are physical, including tense or sore muscles, a racing heart or

sweating, and headache or stomach aches.

There are several anxiety disorders common in teenagers. The most frequently seen are

social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and phobias, according to Social anxiety disorder is a fear of public situations. This disorder may stem

from the fear of being judged or embarrassed in public. Those who suffer from generalized

anxiety disorder have excessive worry about everyday situations. Panic attacks consist of

sudden and intense physical symptoms like a racing heart, shortness of breath, dizziness,

numbness, or tingling feelings. These symptoms are the overacting of the body’s normal fear

response. Others may have specific phobias, where they feel intense fears for things such as

dogs, heights, or flying in airplanes.

According to the ADAA, half of all those diagnosed with anxiety are also diagnosed with

depression. Depression is a constant state of discouragement, sadness, or hopelessness. At

any point in time, three to five percent of people suffer from major depression. Symptoms

include: a persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood; feelings of hopelessness or pessimism;

feelings of guilt or worthlessness; loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities;

decreased energy; difficulty concentrating or making decisions; insomnia, early-awakening or

oversleeping; low appetite and weight loss or overeating and weight gain; thoughts of death or

suicide; and irritability.

These disorders can be overwhelming. believes the best ways to continue

a happy life are to exercise, have good nutrition, receive adequate sleep, and try to reduce the

stress in your life. When stressful situations do arise, participate in activities that will help you

relax. Meditate, get a massage, listen to music, or do yoga. Sometimes it’s harder than that,

though, and you can’t prevent an anxiety attack or bout of depression. Trying to stop them or be

in denial doesn’t help.  As difficult as it might be, remember that you cannot control everything.

Once you can accept anxiety or depression and approach it with feelings of interest rather than

anger or sadness, you can more easily move on.

If someone you know has anxiety or depression, know that they won’t easily be able to

“snap out of it” like you can. These are actual illnesses caused by problems with chemicals in

the brain. suggests ways you can support these friends or family members.

Don’t avoid them or leave them alone because you don’t think you can help them, or you don’t

know what to say. Encourage them to talk to a doctor or psychologist, and discourage them

from using drugs or alcohol to cope with their situation. Most importantly, be there to listen

without judgment. Even if you don’t completely understand, just try to be there for them.

For those with anxiety, know that there are people who want to help you. If it gets to a

point where you have suicidal thoughts, contact a doctor immediately. Ending your life is a

permanent solution to a temporary problem. A doctor can help you recognize the value of your

life. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).