Your palms are sweaty, your heart is racing, your knees are weak, and yet you stand there in front of everyone while they just blatantly stare at you. The sweat building up on your forehead drips into your eyes. You stutter, trying desperately to remember what you are supposed to speak about. Nothing comes to mind and you can’t read the blurred words faded across the paper shaking in your hands. You walk off the stage with your knees feeling like they could collapse beneath you. Everyone comforts you and tells you it’s a normal feeling, and that it happens to everyone. But, this isn’t your first time, and it won’t be your last. Today, many teenagers are facing events in their life that they shouldn’t have to deal with, such as feeling overwhelmed when talking in front of others. Stress consumes them every single day and soon they will begin to develop anxiety. Anxiety is becoming more common and it’s becoming a huge problem in our society. It feels like you can’t keep up with everything going on in your life. There are many types of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), or even phobia. Anxiety is classified as a disorder when a person stresses over something that most others wouldn’t stress about, or when an event occurs and there is constant stress or panic afterward (Lombardo, 2018 p.7). Anxiety is a growing disorder amongst teenagers because of compounded stress.
Everyone has anxiety, but it can become chronic to the point where it becomes an illness. Iorizzo claims that if you have anxiety, “You may experience fear, panic, nightmares, sickness, headache, tense muscles, shortness of breath, or it may be hard for you to sleep” (2014, p. 10). It is actually good for you to have anxiety, but the prolonging of it is unhealthy. Iorizzo also says, “Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger” (2014, p. 4). Anxiety can help you to maintain focus. It tells your brain that you need to be worried about a test so that it’s easier for you to study and not forget about it. It also gives you energy, motivation, and purpose. Matt Abrahams says, “I don’t think we can ever truly overcome our anxiety, nor would we want to. Anxiety is actually helpful. It gives us energy, helps us focus, tells us what we’re doing is important, but we must manage it, so it doesn’t manage us” (2018). Some people will go see a doctor or therapist to help them, but usually, that is not the case. People who don’t get help will overwork themselves, not get enough sleep, and overall will not live a happy life. Only 36.9% of people with anxiety decide to get medical help (About ADAA facts, 2018). When stress compounds someone’s life to the point they feel helpless, it turns into an anxiety disorder and they need to get help.
There are many types of anxiety with differences in each case. Some of them are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). GAD is a common type of anxiety and can be a mixture of some of the other forms of anxiety. When you have generalized anxiety, you mostly panic constantly about different situations and feel stressed out all of the time. SAD is a disorder that occurs when you are around people. It may be a large group setting, or it could even be talking to a friend. It usually begins in young adults and starts to develop when they are in middle school. According to Lombardo, “People with SAD are afraid of drawing attention to themselves, being at an event with others, speaking in public, being embarrassed, or even criticized” (2018, p. 17). A phobia is whenever you are scared of a specific thing, such as spiders, heights, or small spaces. It is said that women are more likely to have a phobia (About ADAA facts, 2018). OCD and PTSD are both disorders that are usually acquired over time. If you have OCD, everything around you has to be perfect. Everything must be clean, organized, and not overwhelming. When in a scary situation, a person may experience PTSD (Lombardo, 2018, p. 10). It is a very common disorder for people who have experienced war, rape, and violence. People who have PTSD are always on high alert in public, stay away from big crowds, and do not handle loud noises well.
To put it into perspective, it is said that anxiety is now the largest issue among our teens, not depression (Nutt, 2018). Teenagers are pressured with multiple things and they build up quickly. In 2017, it was recorded that the number of teens sent to the hospital for an anxiety disorder had doubled since 2007 (Gunn, 2018). Some common stress factors are schoolwork, college, getting a job, fitting in, sports, clubs, and trying to plan out their future. These are normal things to have anxiety about, but the prolonging of it is not good for them. Iorizzo says, “Researchers believe that common mental disorders in adults first emerge in childhood and adolescence” (2014, p. 15). Everyone is taught competitiveness at a very young age. Although competitiveness is very good, it has been carried to an extreme. Parents are putting the message in their kids’ heads that they should always win, and that they should be upset whenever they don’t. Kids should be rewarded for always trying their best and having fun, yet they are criticized for not winning.
One of the largest components of a teenager’s anxiety is the atmosphere in a school or classroom. Nutt states, “Classroom pressures are putting kids in the state of mind that they need to always win and beat others to achieve in life” (2018). Students are fighting to be valedictorian, salutatorian, best athlete, or just to maintain a good GPA. Teens go home with lots of homework and have multiple tests per week. It is hard for a student to be completely focused when they might have a bad home life, are working, or playing sports. When a student has anxiety, it will be hard for them to pay attention in their classes (Seema & Vankatesh, 2017, p. 435). If a student is worried about studying for a huge test they have on Friday morning, they may not have an exemplary amount of time to be able to do their math homework the night before. This results in them staying up late to finish both and being too tired to focus on the test or any other class. There are too many standards for our teenagers today. A study was done on the association of gender and different school systems in regular teenagers aged 16-18. In the study conducted by Seema and Vanketash, “Neither gender nor school type revealed statistically significant differences in the manifestation of social phobia” (2017, p. 437). This shows that certain schools do not have more standards than others. It also proves that even though a male would be perceived to not have anxiety, that it is just as common as it would be for a female.