It’s true that most people will experience some form of stress. Many individuals today are stressed, overworked, worried, or tense. They’ve got work, children, family, friends, finances, meals, and more to tend to each day. It’s hard to relax a mind that is going on and on all week; the mind keeps thinking, worrying, analyzing, and planning. It’s been going and going all week long, how is it supposed to come to an abrupt stop suddenly on the weekend?
Sadly, the over thinking, over worrying, and over analyzing is a significant contributor to the psychological illnesses of depression and anxiety. In fact, anxiety disorders are the most common type of psychological illness. According to Moretza and Karen Khaleghi, authors of the book Anatomy of Addiction, 19.1 million adults suffer from anxiety, which translates to about 13.3 percent of the U.S. population, or about one in every seven adults. Also, the Anxiety Disorders Association of America reports that one in eight children are affected by anxiety disorders.
There are various forms of mental illnesses that are anxiety-related. However, a common one is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a diagnosis given to those who experience excessive and irrational worry for at least six months. The excessive anxiety interferes with the ability to function and usually consists of extreme anxiety for everyday matters. What’s interesting about this disorder is that those who suffer from it will have difficulty putting their finger on the source of anxiety, fear, or worry. Yet, their experience of anxiety is persistent and chronic. This is sometimes referred to as free-floating anxiety.
According to The Huffington Post, there are many ways in which those who are anxious – teens and adults both – can have a different experience of life. They might perceive the world around them with fear, respond to life with more worry, and dread a looming sense of uncertainty.
Anxious teens might find it hard when a parent or teacher says, “Calm down”. It might trigger frustration and exacerbate an anxious state. It’s like telling a child not to eat the candy that’s right in front of them. Of course, they are going to do exactly the opposite. Instead, teens need the opportunity to express their anxiety, to give voice to their fears. The phrase, “Calm down,” tends to make worse those emotions that are already repressed, which contributes to anxiety and depression.
One form of anxiety is Panic Disorder. It is a mental health condition in which a teen experiences sudden and repeated attacks of fear, which are often accompanied by a feeling of being out of control. Uncomfortable physical sensations, such as a pounding heart, sweating, weakness, dizziness, and numbness makes up the experience a panic attack. An intense worry about the next attack is a common symptom. Because of this intense worry, teens might over-react to certain situations where others might respond with ease. The excessive fear causes them to jump and respond to life in extreme ways.
Furthermore, anxious teens are more vulnerable to depression. The two illnesses are closely related. Often, underneath anxiety is depression, including underlying emotions that have been directed inward, such as anger and shame. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is another common mental illness in the United States. In fact, about 70 percent of all antidepressants sold in the world are sold in the United States. About 9 percent of Americans suffer from depression, and globally, five percent of the population across the planet suffers from depression, according to the World Health Organization.
Whether it’s anxiety or depression, a teen should be assessed so that the most appropriate diagnosis and treatment can be provided. Adolescents diagnosed with GAD or MDD would benefit from participating in either individual or group therapy or both. In fact, medication alone is now considered to be an incomplete form of treatment since it only addresses the symptoms of mental illness. Both therapy and medication combined can address the symptoms as well as the underlying issues that contributed to the illness in the first place.
Holmes, L. (May 5, 2014). 8 Things Only People with Anxiety Understand. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on May 5, 2014 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/05/truths-about-anxiety_n_5240381.html