Imagine this: you have to present your essay to your class. You’ve known about it for two weeks and today you’re waiting your turn. Your leg bounces up and down with nervousness and you’re biting at the skin around your fingernails.
The teacher calls your name and it’s like an explosion goes off in your body. Your chest is constricting and you feel like someone has punched you in the stomach. Your hands are shaking and you can’t breathe smoothly.
A million questions are running through your head. What if I mess up? What if I stutter and they all laugh? Did I even turn in the correct assignment? You feel sick and your eyes are stinging with tears. You’d rather die than present, and this all happens within seconds.
In the end, you take a zero because your anxiety won’t allow you to present.
If you’ve experienced anything close to what is being described above, then there’s a chance you have experienced anxiety. What was described above can be classified as “social anxiety.”
“Anxiety is terrible. I even have anxiety about asking the teacher a question after class is over,” said a student who asked to remain anonymous. She said that her anxiety often occurs when she is forced to talk to somebody.
Other types of anxiety include panic disorders, phobic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, to name just a few.
According to Anxiety and Depression Association Of America, anxiety affects 40 million adults in the United States which is 18% of the population. Only about one-third of them receive treatment, even though anxiety is a highly treatable condition.
“I’m medically diagnosed,” explained Anonymous, “ but I don’t take any medication.”
Anxiety can sometimes lead to anxiety attacks and panic attacks, which include sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, a choking sensation, chest pain, racing heart, nausea, dizziness. And then add to that a fear of losing your mind and/or dying.
“To basically sum up anxiety, it’s like that feeling when you miss the last step on the stairs or when you lean too far back in a chair and you almost fall but you feel it for hours, days, even all the time,” explained junior Emily Worpek, a victim of severe anxiety. “It’s also like a slow-motion life. You can’t really move or think.”
Anxiety attacks add to the severity of the disorder and can come on without warning.
“I remember how I felt when I had my worst anxiety attack. I can’t remember why I had it but it was just awful. I kept reminding myself to breathe and did my best to tell myself to calm down and that things will be fine,” said anonymous.
ADAA claims that students have even refused to attend school due to anxiety. This affects two to five percent of school-aged children. “I have wanted to skip school but my parents wouldn’t let me, “ says Anonymous.
LHS Senior Zoe Vital suffered from acute anxiety before being treated.
“I used to throw up before school because I was so nervous to talk to people,” she confessed.
Vital cannot go into stores by herself without having panic attacks. “Even if someone looks at me the wrong way, I freak out.”
She also cannot order food in a restaurant because she is afraid she will order the food the wrong way, “so my mother has to order my food for me.”
There are many treatment options for anxiety disorders. Talk to your parents or your doctor. Some students have had good luck with therapy from a good doctor
“Therapy is a treatment but it’s hard for [students] to ask for help.” explained LHS guidance counselor Jacqueline Dupont.
Dupont also pointed out that anxiety can lead to depression. She suggested that those with anxiety should educate themselves more about it to help themselves more, also to have a “point person.” A point person is someone they can go to specifically for help.
“The students with anxiety aren’t always the ones with their head down and keeping quiet. ” said Dupont. “It affects people in different ways.”
For some, extended treatment might not be necessary.
“Anxiety is normal in most people. The best way to deal with it is deep breathing.” said social worker Ronald Hokanson.