Are today’s teens experiencing more anxiety and stress than ever before?


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By SOREN LUTHER
The Mirror reporter

According to neaToday, in 2016 the National College Health Assessment found that “nearly two-thirds of college students reported ‘overwhelming anxiety,’ up from 50 percent just five years earlier.” Stress and anxiety in school have always existed, but in current years, has it become too much?

Stress is defined as “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation,” according to Merriam Webster, while anxiety is defined as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure,” according to the American Psychology Association.

The difference between stress and anxiety is not always easy to distinguish, according to Learn Psychology. Certain characteristics can be present in both anxiety and stress. Although stress and anxiety are similar, stress can be identified as a reaction to a current event, while anxiety usually consists of worrisome thoughts about an event that, according to Learn Psychology, “may or may not happen in the future.”

School is one of the biggest impactors on a young person’s mood. For this reason, it is not surprising that most people, at some time or another, have experienced stress or anxiety in school. Many things in school can lead to stress and anxiety such as too much school work, not enough free time, and too much pressure from teachers and parents.

Two main causes of anxiety, according to neaToday, include social media and school testing.

Social media has greatly increased depression and suicide rates. For more information on technology dependency and addiction, visit the “Tech Addiction” article found on The Mirror.

The No Child Left Behind federal law mandated that there would be standardized testing for public schools. This law limited activities such as recess and physical education in kindergarten and increased studying habits among children. Many students, later on, feel pressure from their parents and from the school system, which leads to increased stress and anxiety.

While stress and anxiety are both intertwined and connected, there are definitely certain coping mechanisms associated with both.

When an individual experiences anxiety or stress, they may turn to unhealthy coping strategies. Strategies that are unhealthy and that should not be used include getting involved with drugs and alcohol. Someone who is feeling stressed should not turn to these substances because they will only make the situation worse in the long run.

Although there are many negative ways to deal with anxiety and stress, there are also many positive and healthy ways.

Stress toys found in the counseling office at SPASH (Soren Luther Photo).

“All the counselors in the counseling office are happy to help. We always advocate talking to friends, communicating with parents, [and] communicating with people that you trust about how you’re feeling,” SPASH school counselor Jenessa Reid said. “If the anxiety and stress [is] becoming super unmanageable we encourage students to consider looking at counseling whether that’s at school or looking outside of school….”