Anxiety Rates Are Climbing


Iliana Tangarova

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the share of teenage girls that have experienced feelings of sadness and/or hopelessness increased from 36% to 57% in the past decade.

Iliana Tangarova, Reporter

Anxiety. A seven-letter word that causes teenagers’ heart rates to skyrocket with just a mention. My take on it? Anxiety is yuck.

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the share of teenage girls that have experienced feelings of sadness and/or hopelessness increased from 36% to 57% in the past decade.

Urgh. When I first saw these statistics, I had to take a step back and draw in a breath. It doesn’t seem fair – as we get older, we should feel less anxious, right? Apparently not. 

I’ve never struggled with a diagnosed anxiety disorder or anything like that. Growing up, it felt as if I dealt with the normal amount of anxiety that a kid would face, like the first day of school jitters or the pre-swim meet stomach butterflies. However, those feelings felt magnified the more I grew up, especially when surrounded by social media and teenage-hood. 

And then came quarantine. 

Throughout quarantine, the main method of entertainment for me and many other teens was through social media: TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, you name it. When the months flew by of my virtual sophomore year, I could sense how my anxiety amplified. Wake up at the same time every day, eat breakfast and attend online school. Rinse and repeat for ten months. Following the same pattern every day for a year knocked me off my feet when I returned to campus in my junior year. 

Interacting with others had never seemed as hard as it was when I was getting back in the groove of things. I was so used to interacting online that I sort of forgot how to do it in person (at least, without feeling a mountain of social anxiety wash over me). 

My relationship with anxiety morphed throughout that whole year, and eventually, it turned into a more manageable thing. However, the first semester of senior year came, and my relationship with my anxiety and emotions was in a relationship akin to Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber’s – turbulent. College applications were definitely difficult mental health-wise, and anxiety was the norm. 

After a couple of stressful months, I was able to complete my college applications and get a hold of my anxiety. Of course, the interrelation between my emotions and my sanity (for lack of a better word) had been a cracked relationship. It had been glued together but had its crevices wide from wear and tear. 

Anxiety looks different for everybody. For teen girls, it sadly seems as though it’s becoming an unavoidable experience in growing up, especially when dealing with social media, which organizations like the American Psychological Association have associated with increased rates of eating disorders and depression in young girls.

For myself and many others, it was spurred in moments of isolation and as a byproduct of watching others online. For others, it may come from somewhere else. It is not a one-size-fits-all situation with a uniform solution. 

I was able to conquer my anxiety by talking to others. No matter how cheesy it sounds, talking it out really does help. Whether it was to myself, a friend or my mom as we gave each other the run downs of our day, talking through how I was feeling and letting myself process those emotions rather than keep them to myself helped tremendously. Also, staying away from excessive social media use definitely helped too. 

The past few years of high school have taught me a crucial lesson, and that is that your mental health matters. It is truly the thing that drives you forward. Without a sound mind, you’re only going to be able to walk and think as far. 

Of course, bouts of anxiety are definitely bound to happen – it is not some disease that can be cured with one gulp of medicine. However, rather than saying YOLO and rolling with it, I now know to probe into it and talk with someone about how I’m feeling. 

If you or another student that you know is struggling with their mental health, please reach out to the wonderful counseling services we have at the school. If that’s not something you’re entirely comfortable with, reach out to a friend or a loved one, somebody, anybody so that you’re not feeling overtaken by those rough emotions.