Anxiety is on the rise among teenagers and high school students all over the globe. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders with 25% of teenagers being affected meaning that 1 in 4 teenagers suffer from an anxiety disorder. These disorders are also being glamorized and self diagnosed. Many people misunderstand high levels of stress that go on for long periods of stress to be an anxiety disorder but there are certain human reactions that are normal when feeling stressed. Learning the correct meanings of certain words that have been made out to be synonyms is very important especially when it comes to the mental health of others.
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Definition: Intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations
Anxiety is the body’s response to being overwhelmed with worry and fear. There are times where everyone feels anxious or has a feeling of anxiety but some people experience an irrational amount of the feeling which is usually from an underlying issue or an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is triggered by stress but it manifests into an irrational sense of stress. Anxiety also about a certain thing does not go away once the situation has been handled or the “threat” goes away.
WHAT IS STRESS?
Definition: A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances
Stress is the body’s response to being overwhelmed with challenge and demand. Stress is different from anxiety in the sense that there is usually a rational reason behind why an individual is experiencing stress. Stress is not typically brought on by doing everyday activities. Stress is usually brought on by specific things occurring such as receiving a large amount of homework or being put under a lot of pressure. Stress can also be positive in bursts when it helps you to get out of danger or meet a deadline.
THE BIGGEST STRESSORS:
- Fear of Failure
- Social Pressure
- Uncertainty About the Future
- Heavy workload
- Social media
THE BIGGEST ANXIETY INDUCERS:
- Arguments or conflict
- Fear of things going wrong
- Social media
- Changes to routine or disruption to lifestyle
- Generalized anxiety disorder – GAD is diagnosed when a person experiences feelings of restlessness, fatigue, difficulty focusing, irritability, excessive worry and difficulty sleeping with little to provoke it, most days, for at least 6 months
- Panic disorder – This is characterized by unexpected and repeated panic attacks which come with symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating or chills, shaking, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, feeling a loss of control over their body and emotions. People with panic disorder may try to avoid situations that they think might cause them to have a panic attack or constantly be dreading when the next one will occur. Some of these symptoms do occur as a normal human reaction to stress but the feeling of panic disorder is usually more intense and intrusive.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder – OCD includes the urge to do something repetitively. A very stereotypical way of thinking of this disorder is just wanting to keep things clean and organized but not it is not keeping things tidy in the way one would think. People with this disorder will do things such as check objects repeatedly to reduce fear, repeating words, names or phrases, cleaning things to reduce risk of contamination or arranging things in a certain way that makes their brain feel less anxious.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD is the body’s response to experiencing or living through a traumatic event. Symptoms don’t always start immediately after the event, they can start months after. The effects of the disorder include unwanted or unexpected flashbacks of the event, nightmares and avoidance of things or situations relating to the event.
Knowing the difference between stress and anxiety is very important when talking about mental health especially when you’re in high school. High school is full of stress and sometimes the stress that it causes on top of possible past trauma can turn into something much bigger such as an anxiety disorder. If you know someone that does have a diagnosed anxiety disorder the best thing you can do for them is reassure them that it will be ok. As confusing as it may be for you to understand where their thoughts are coming from and why they are thinking the way they are, be there for them to help them through it. A support system is always needed whether someone has a mental disorder or not.
QUESTIONS FOR VIEWERS:
- What have you learned from this presentation?
- What are some tips you have or things you do to reduce stress and/or anxiety?
This is a form where you can choose your top three stressors: