By Paige Daniele, Millbrook High School Student
Illustrated by Molly Stark, Rhinebeck High School Class of 2019
It is two in the morning. I wake with a jolt from a dead sleep, sit straight up, and know something is off. My clothes are stuck to me from the sticky mixture of water and salt seeping from my skin. My chest rises and falls erratically. I can’t catch my breath; it’s as if I’d just run a marathon, causing my heart to pound against my chest wall.
The room is spinning, my vision blurry. I press my eyes closed, trying to grasp the world around me. I look down at my hands, which are shaking like leaves, trembling uncontrollably. From my waist down, there is a tingly sensation on my skin, as if millions of ants were crawling up and down my legs. My stomach reacts as though all of the food I’d consumed earlier is turning against me.
Seeming unable to gain possession of my own body leaves me feeling powerless. Helpless. Weak. Restrained within myself. Teenage anxiety makes me feel trapped by the irrational fears and constant worrying that control my life—but I’m not alone.
We all probably know someone who suffers from anxiety; after all, many American teens are diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Anxiety doesn’t define who we are to any extent, but it is common among teens and is a disorder that often
Anxiety is a state of apprehension or fear that results from the anticipation of a situation or event that we think might harm or endanger us in some way, which produces a stress response. Some people fear having anxiety attacks, resulting in an increase of the symptoms. It is a vicious cycle!
In fact, studies indicate that the highest incidences of anxiety occur in individuals 17 to 25 years of age. When someone is frequently anxious, they may decide to have a drink to calm their nerves, and as a result, some people with anxiety disorders end up abusing alcohol or drugs in their attempt to feel more relaxed. This can lead to even larger problems for teenagers.
Anyone who has experienced anxiety attacks—which can last a few moments or as long as thirty minutes—can tell you that the attacks can be frightening and debilitating. They can even prevent us from doing things that we love and enjoy.
However, anxiety can be prevented or managed with the right support and help. Treatment for anxiety is usually a combination of self-help, individual counseling or group therapy, and medication.
Most teenagers with anxiety aren’t getting the help that they need and should address their anxiety so that they have a chance to thrive as individuals. Although anxiety may not go away completely, teenagers can learn to manage it and live a happy and healthy life.
Mental health problems are common, however help is available. If you or anyone you know is struggling with anxiety or any other issues, visit MentalHealth.gov. █