Is That Really Giving You Anxiety? | WHS Mental Health Series


Samantha, Senior Writer

In the previous article titled Why Are They So Stressed Out? the balance between work and play was considered to be a healthy platform in stress management. Can that balance also assist with anxiety? From a study conducted by The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Anxiety disorders affect 25.1% of children between 13 and 18 years old. That includes the entire period of high school, and even into higher education. My discussions between the two SACs  (Mrs. Feeley and Ms. Malone) led to an understanding that Anxiety can be good. There are healthy forms of it as Ms. Malone clarifies that there is a difference between healthy anxiety and clinical anxiety, by stating that “[Anxiety] comes from the fight-or-flight response. Anxiety, in general, is not a bad thing. When anxiety becomes debilitating and is taking over, that’s when it is a problem…Someone else might have that same feeling, but all day, multiple days in a row”. Both agreed that they come up with a plan to address it individually, but as Mrs. Feeley said it “can lead you to do great more focused and break things down–you are talking about things in a different way”. The ADAA argued that “untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse”. Which begs the question, are students really and clinically anxious, or do they just toss around the saying of “This gives me anxiety”, ”You’re giving me anxiety”, etc?

“Just do it and you’ll feel better might not work for something that is more clinically anxious. There are different theories on this. If a child grows up in an environment where a parent is really anxious, can affect the child–It’s nature versus nurture. This child grew up almost learning anxious behaviors” claims Ms. Malone. Unfortunately, both agreed that the levels of anxiety have risen since the start of their professional careers at Waltham High School. Malone linked social media to the rise in anxiety through her theory that “An increase in social media shows an increase in anxiety..Students can have a difficult time in school and go home to their “safe world””, further clarifying that young people cannot escape what other people are doing on social media. They are not aware of how it is affecting them. Now this argument has been brought up time and time again. Does social media cause an increase in anxiety among adolescents? Well, according to every article I have researched, yes. With everything in life, you must keep it in moderation. Almost everyone is aware that too much of anything is bad for you, but despite this, Psych Com actually claimed that “social media is constantly changing and evolving” and the research is not definite. Everyone is different in dealing with the pressures of how others view them and social interaction, and not everyone contributes their anxiety to social media, even though Feeley also agreed on the increase, stating: “Yes, there has been a rise in anxiety, but it is also socially normal to say “I have anxiety”..students should know the difference between the actual disorder and knowing the challenges of life. Maybe it is temporary or situational, [but] should be evaluated with professionals”.

In the halls, classrooms, and lunch spaces of Waltham High School, this is a common phrase. Many adolescents adhere their current state of discomfort of frustration on the clinical form of anxiety. The phrase takes many forms, “I have anxiety”, “This gives me anxiety”, “You’re giving me anxiety”. In those brief moments of discomfort, that word can be said so incredibly nonchalantly, unaware how it impacts the emotions of students actually diagnosed with the mental illness. These students require professional care and not just a simple apology or comforting back pat. Although, the SACs have very impressive degrees, they do believe that every student and every disorder is different. Ms. Malone does not declare herself to “be the end all be all..In this field, always be able to identify when a students needs to be more assisted inside or outside of school…You never get to a point where you’re just like: Oh we did everything there’s nothing else we can do”, and she’s right. Every student is different, and the way they approach their challenges is different. The School Adjustment Counselors are always available to all students and teachers that would like some support, or even anyone one to listen to. Their open door policy is welcoming to all and provides a safe space to those in the school community, allowing it to grow.