What are the anxiety levels in high school students?

This bog answers questions about: What are the anxiety levels in high school students? What are some common struggles of high school students that might lead to anxiety? What are some triggers of anxiety and in high school students? What are some ways to manage anxiety by high school students? What are the therapy options for anxiety experienced by high school students?

What are the anxiety levels in high school students?

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Studies indicated that the level of anxiety experienced by high school students is very high. About 70% of high school students experience anxiety and other mental health conditions as a major problem. 

In addition, many mental health surveys acknowledge the fact that high school students, teenagers, and young adults are the most anxious population.

Considering high school is a period of transition it entails many changes both personally and socially creating many sources for stress and anxiety among students.

High school students might experience high levels of anxiety because of the lack of awareness about mental health concerns and their ability to cope with stress and anxiety effectively.

Experts have pointed out several reasons that are contributing to higher levels of anxiety among high school students out of which the two most contributing factors are stress related to tests and exams and the second being stress over social media.

Another main reason for high school students to experience high levels of stress could be due to the pressure of achieving their goals which require them to keep up with the daily requirements and academic-related work in the presence of tough competition.

Apart from the pressure of performing the best many high school students also hold the pressure of not letting their parents down in any way further carrying out harsh treatment with themselves at times to keep up with their parent’s expectations. High school students who feel they are not able to keep up with their parent’s expectations might experience a sense of anxiety.

Though tackling all the possible stressors of high school students might be impossible students must be equipped with efficient coping strategies to deal with their problems and concerns on priority such that they do not hamper their mental stability which might over time lead to detrimental growth

Many studies also indicate that females are more likely to experience high anxiety than males amongst high school students.

What are some common struggles of high school students that might lead to anxiety?

Some common struggles of high school students that may gradually lead to anxiety are:

  • Inability to form healthy social networks
  • Poor grades and performance
  • Peer pressure
  • Underlying mental or physical disabilities
  • Lack of support from parents
  • Pressure of performance
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Homesickness for those staying away from family
  • Inability to manage money efficiently
  • Disorganization
  • Unaddressed overwhelming feelings
  • Sexual identity difficulties
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Stressful life events

What are some triggers of anxiety and in high school students?

  • Strained intimate relationship
  • Sexual assault
  • Peer relationship difficulties
  • Sexual identity adjustment difficulties
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Family history of anxiety
  • Stressful life events
  • Competition in academic, or social performance.
  • Fears of disappointing parents

Strained intimate relationship

Students at high school can experience anxiety due to their potentially strained relationships. Many times, relationships can be a source of extreme dissatisfaction and conflict which impacts a students’ mental health.

Some relationship situations that might contribute to anxiety can include abuse, breakup, and long-distance relationships.

Strained relationships can cause significant anxiety and low mood in an individual which further affects a students’ relationship creating a vicious cycle.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault is considered another main source of anxiety amongst high school students.

The number of students that report being sexually assaulted either by other senior students or by the school staff is several.

Sexual assault creates a sense of long-standing discomfort and decreased self-confidence and self-esteem leaving the student feeling lost.

Some students speak about their sexual assaults and seek help while others choose to keep their experiences to themselves and suffer greater intensity of anxiety over time.

Peer relationship difficulties

One of the most prominent sources of stress in high school might be the type of relationship students share with their peers. Peers play a very important and integral role in student life in terms of their growth and development.

Sexual identity adjustment difficulties

Anxiety can commonly be seen among students who fight battles for their sexual orientation and sexual identities. Many young students can go through many challenging situations, negative attitudes, and cultural stigma due to their sexual identities and orientations.

Adding onto this, a hostile school environment can greatly affect students’ performance and their mental health. Students who face difficulties with identity adjustments usually show low performance and higher mental instability.

Many parents also react negatively upon learning their child’s sexual orientation or identity and even abandon them in worst cases.

Drug or alcohol use

Anxiety is also common among students who abuse drugs and alcohol. The use of substances can heighten the feelings of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness which are usually associated with depression and anxiety.

Family history of depression

Students who have a history of anxiety in the family are more likely to experience them than those who don’t. That is the parents or relatives of students with a history of mental illnesses such as anxiety are more likely of experiencing anxiety than those students who do not hold a family history of mental illnesses.

Stressful life events

Stressful life events can be experienced by any high school student at any given point. High school students might experience various numbers of stressful events both at school as well as home.

These might include strained relationships at home, loss of a loved one, chronic illness or strained relationships with peers and teachers at school, inability to cope with academics, lack of resources to meet the requirements of school projects and assignments, and physical or mental abuse.

Competition in academic, or social performance.

Another very common source of anxiety and depression in students in grad school is the comparison between them and their peers in terms of academic performances and social conduct. These comparisons can either be a result of internal conflict or can be done by one’s teachers and parents.

 

Fears of disappointing parents because of grades or career path choice

After coming to high school, the pressure upon the students concerning the best career paths and grades increases tremendously. The large number of career options that are available today gives space to conflicts between the students and the parents leading to stress.

What are some ways to manage anxiety by high school students?

Identify and acknowledge the triggers

The most significant strategy that can be used to control one’s anxiety is by identifying and acknowledging those triggers.

Being able to recognize what makes an individual anxious makes them better equipped to take action.

Relaxation techniques

 

Even though anxiety can be bought under an individual’s control it cannot be predicted. In such situations, it is necessary that an individual actively carries out relaxation techniques.

These might include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing which helps to reduce the intensity of anxiety within a short period.

Socialization

 

A key to reducing the frequency and intensity of anxiety attacks could be spending time with close family and friends.

The kind of emotional and practical support provided by these social and personal groups help the person feel connected and aid in distracting one’s mind from negative and recurring thoughts that lead to anxiety.

Apart from friends and families, individuals can also consider speaking to groups of people that are experiencing similar problems.

Set realistic goals

When an individual is feeling overwhelmed, setting goals and targets keeping in mind priorities can help resolve overwhelming feelings of fear or panic.

Setting goals provides structure and routine to an individual’s life reducing space for uncertainty which can be a major trigger for anxiety in many cases.

Take up new challenges

Apart from doing activities that an individual is usually fond of and has expertise in, trying new and challenging activities that put an individual outside their comfort zone in a healthy manner may help reduce the stress and anger temporarily.

Signing up for new activities also provides a path to meeting people with similar stories and concerns.

Lifestyle changes

An individual’s lifestyle plays a major role in their experience of anxiety. An unhealthy and busy lifestyle usually leads to unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, lack of adequate sleep.

A combination of a well-set diet, exercise, and sleep can help to regulate an individual’s mood and equip them with a favorable coping mechanism.

These coping mechanisms in turn help to get control over once anxiety concerns in a more adaptable manner.

lack of proper diet, sleep, and exercise can make an individual sluggish, dependent, moody and vulnerable to anxiety attacks.

Making journal entries

Last but not least having a journal to write down how a person is feeling and thinking when they are anxious helps them to reflect upon their thoughts and feelings.

Putting down one’s thoughts and feelings onto a paper helps to provide a sense of temporary relief.

In the case of journal entry, a person does not even have to fear being judged by another person regarding their thoughts and feelings.

What are the therapy options for anxiety experienced by high school students?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular stimulus that they usually fear or are anxious about in a graded order.

As and when the individual gets comfortable with the situation or stimulus introduced or exposed to them with each session, individuals get more comfortable with a real-life situation that might have otherwise been a source for triggering anxiety.

Group therapy

 

It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same fears they might not feel left alone or isolated. Group therapy usually involves a group of individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.

Medication

Anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health care professional.

Though medication alone cannot help in reducing persistent anxiety it can help in restoring a sense of control and bring temporary relief. 

Online therapy  

In cases where reaching out physically to a professional is impossible or discomforting an individual can opt to seek help through the online medium. 

In this, the therapy sessions are carried out one-to-one over a video or audio call. Some individuals also prefer interacting with the therapist through text as well due to various reasons. One of the most common is the fear of being judged by the therapist or some personal hesitation. 

Online therapy can help individuals to regulate some aspects of their anxiety that aids individuals in carrying out a stress-free life over time

Conclusion 

Experiencing anxiety at the high school level might be very difficult. Students must be well aware of their mental well-being and must be equipped with the required coping mechanisms to tackle anxiety considering a large number of risk factors they are exposed to at this age.

Frequently asked question: Anxiety levels in high school students

Do high school students have the same anxiety levels?

Experts have pointed out that average high school students share the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the earlier 1950s.

What causes the most stress for students?

students might experience high levels of stress due to many reasons however the ones that stand out are lack of proper self-care-poor diet, insufficient sleep, lack of physical activities, and building concerns over various reasons that can contribute to their building stress

Why is high school so hard?

High school can be a difficult phase for many students one reason for this could be the transition into adolescence which is accompanied by fluctuating emotions and drives that can cause a sense of conflict regarding values and priorities.

Citations

https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/new-from-nea/epidemic-anxiety-among-todays-students

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