HannahKornegay, Staff Reporter
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety affects at least one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders have a greater risk of performing poorly in school, missing out on crucial social experiences and engaging in substance abuse. Defined as a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, anxiousness is often coupled with compulsive behavior or panic attacks. There are multiple types of anxiety disorders- from generalized anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder- with each one carrying the ability to wreak havoc on physical and mental health. Furthermore, anxiety can often co-occur or manifest itself as depression, an eating disorder, or even panic attacks. In the short term, a small dose of anxiousness will increase your breathing and heart rate, but prolonged anxiety can create negative long-term damage on both the body and mind. Anxiety triggers the “fight or flight” response in your brain, releasing a flood of hormones, including adrenaline, into your body. If caused to feel stressed repeatedly or for long periods of time, the body’s immune system weakens, leaving you susceptible to viral infections and illness. Prolonged stressors may often give the illusion of ill health, leaving the patient weak and unhealthy. An anxiety disorder will cause a lack of appetite and loss of interest in the things that you once found important. If you suffer from panic attacks, it is possible to develop a fear of those attacks, thus increasing your overall anxiety.
At Chattahoochee High School it’s not uncommon to overhear teenagers griping about the difficulties in their lives. In recent years, schooling has become increasingly more competitive and it’s difficult not to feel those pressures as the time for college approaches. It is understandable that facing new obstacles is going to stress us out; however, there’s more than one case that I know of where students would rather shut down than face the pressures of the world around them. These actions include showing up late, skipping school entirely, or engaging in reckless behaviors. The consistent weight of stress and anxiety can lead to full blown depression and result in your withdrawal from the world around you.
It is important to understand that anxiety disorders are not the result of a mental flaw. No one enjoys talking about the things that are going wrong in their lives, but anxiety is not something to be stigmatized. Approximately twenty percent of teenagers in America are struggling with anxiety every day and are unsure of what to do to get help. The most crucial step in getting help is to identify that you have a problem. Once you’ve established that, then it’s important to contact your doctor. From there, your doctor can point you in the direction of a counselor who can then assess whether you need medication or rather a listening ear. Luckily, the treatment options for anxiety are highly effective, including medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and meditation. Also, don’t overlook help around you. There are people who care about you and would want nothing more than to see you happy and healthy. Reach out to friends or family because there’s a strong possibility that they have struggled with the same issues and know how to help you.