Understanding Anxiety

Calli Gunnells, Staff Writer

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Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorders in the U.S. Anxiety is the body’s reaction to stress and pressure implemented into the brain. It’s the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread you feel before an event. A certain amount of anxiety can help the mind and body be alert and aware which has many beneficial and non beneficial factors to it, but those suffering from an anxiety disorder are put into a state where normality feels like it is far beyond one’s reach. Anxiety disorders are specific psychiatric disorders that involves an intense level of fear or worry. This includes generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and panic attacks, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, selective mutism, separation anxiety, and specific phobias.  

 Long-term anxiety and panic attacks can cause the brain to release stress hormones on a regular basis. This can increase the frequency of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, depression, etc. Anxiety attacks is a term often used by teens and adults to describe all sorts of things, ranging from the feeling of worry, to an intense feeling of terror that would meet the diagnostic criteria for a panic attack. Unlike common and natural anxiety, anxiety disorders are real and serious medical conditions. Anxiety can come from the minds version of the possible dangers that may result in the situation, which is why it is important to understand the necessary context of which the symptoms have occurred. Anxiety increases your breathing and heart rate, contracting blood flow to the brain, if this has become too intense the symptoms of nausea and being light headed occur. 

An estimated 275 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. That’s around 4% of the global population, with a spread of between 2.5% and 6.5% of population per country. Around 62% of those suffering from anxiety are female (170 million), compared with 105 million male sufferers. National prevalence data indicates that nearly 40 million people in the United States (18%) experience an anxiety disorder in any given year. Approximately 8% of children and teens experience anxiety disorders with most people developing symptoms before the age of 21 in the U.S. Only one-third of those with an anxiety disorder receive treatment, even though the disorders are treatable. The many treatments available include prescribed medication (SSRIs, SNRIs, Benzodiazepines, Beta Blockers, etc.), Self treatment (exercise, diet and nutrition, meditation and mindfulness, relaxation techniques, herbal supplements, etc.), and Therapy (Cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, group therapy, brain stimulation, Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, etc.). 

Left untreated, childhood anxiety can result in poor school performance, poor social functioning, and even substance abuse. Stressful life experiences may increase your risk for an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can make it difficult for children and adolescents to attend school, focus at school, and thrive within the classroom setting. Although many of the symptoms experienced by teens with anxiety are similar to those of adults, the situations that they face on a daily basis can be quite different. The challenges teens face are harder because social and academic pressures can often make social anxiety symptoms worse along with any other anxiety disorder one possesses. 

“When it comes to me, anxiety is a huge part of my school life. For example, when it comes to my grades, tests, and the end of the six-weeks I am constantly stressing about achieving my best potential and highest grades. Failing has always been a big factor of fear in my life because I’m usually anxious, which sometimes messes with my focus in class. I deal with anxiety by just shutting down and taking a break from the stress I am pressuring into my mind.” WHS student Kylie Lewallen, said. 

The most important thing to remember about anxiety is that it’s not your fault. Anxiety is made worse by stressing about life, and has characteristics and symptoms that affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, and everyday functioning. Know yourself and try to learn more about your fear or anxiety. Keep track of your anxiety or thoughts on record and  note down when it happens and what happens. You can try setting yourself small, achievable goals for facing your fears. You can carry with you a list of things that help at times when you are likely to be become frightened or anxious. This can be an effective way of addressing your anxiety. Remember that anxiety is a concept that can be overcome with patience and hope, don’t give up on yourself because it gets too hard. Strive for your happiness.