A lot of today’s youth report struggling with mental health issues – especially anxiety. Many of us may wonder, “They’re so young; what do they have to worry about?” Well, the truth is that there’s a lot. Here are some reasons that are making the youth feel anxious.
The Pressure To Be Happy
As Bobby McFerrin (and not Bob Marley) says, “don’t worry, be happy.” This saying is often the piece of advice people offer to us during stressful periods of our life. If only it were that easy. Worry isn’t something we can immediately turn off with a switch. But here’s the thing: you don’t always have to be happy.
When adults always tell the youth to cheer up, it actually puts a lot of pressure on them. Teens will start to feel as if they have to be okay all the time. They may think that they have to be happy all the time. When they begin to experience anything else besides joy, they start to panic because they don’t know how to deal with other emotions. Remember, “The sensation of pressure doesn’t have to be negative—it can be a positive challenge and motivating.” Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D. said.
Unbeknownst to many people, anxiety doesn’t just stem from experiences or one’s behavior; biology can also make you a worry wart.
“Mental health issues can be caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors, and can have a minor or major impact on a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors.” Christina L. Gmyr, LMHC, NCC said. Just like how we can’t always control our anxiety, we can’t control how our bodies are pre-programmed. Unfortunately, some people are more likely to become more worrisome than others. If one of your parents suffers from an anxiety disorder, you become more likely to develop one as well.
Additionally, a teen’s hormones will be all over the place. You can blame that as the cause of your pimples, mood swings, and anxiety. As they go through puberty, they’ll feel added pressure as they don’t know how to deal with things yet.
Lastly, brain development also has something to do with the youth’s worries. As parents expect their teens to take on more responsibilities, they aren’t always ready for it. They still have to go through a lot to mature. It’s normal to make mistakes – but teens won’t realize that immediately. Frustration over failures and naivety can lead to anxiety.
Negative Body Image
Many companies, such as Dove and JCPenney, have gained attention for their body positivity campaigns. Despite these movements, a lot of people still hold unrealistic beauty and body standards. Magazines airbrush their models, celebrities endorse unhealthy diets, and the internet keeps coming up with successors to the thigh gap trend.
Because of these high standards, teens feel pressured to look a certain way. Otherwise, they fear their peers shunning them. This issue is a massive blow to their self-confidence and opens up the road for anxiety to develop.
This problem isn’t limited to only female teens either. Young men also feel the need to be fit, muscular, or buff. They’re also starting to become more conscious of what they wear.
Similar to how the youth feels like there are high standards for beauty, they also feel pressure from high expectations from other aspects of life. Parents often want their kids to succeed in school. They also need to excel in extra-curricular activities. Add all this to the pressure of having to maintain a thriving social life. It can all become too much for a teenager to handle.
Teens may then feel anxious about having to achieve all of these. Likewise, they may feel guilty if they fail to meet other people’s expectations. All of this can also lead to further sleep deprivation, causing them additional stress.
Different age groups need different amounts of sleep. Studies show that adults need roughly 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Additionally, we all know that kids need more hours each night, clocking in at about 9-11 hours for school-age children. In between that, we have teenagers. For them, they still need about 8-10 hours per night.
One reason why teens become stressed and develop anxiety is that they haven’t adjusted to the fewer hours of sleep they get per night. Moreover, they often don’t even get 8-10 hours. This problem is due to having heavy school workloads, joining extra-curricular activities, and trying to maintain a social life with peers.
“Depression is real and painful. Just because you can’t see or touch it doesn’t make it any less real.” Charmaine J. Simmons, LPC explains. Many of us adults forget what it’s like to be a teenager. Admittedly, we’ve had our fair share of anxiety during our youth. From high expectations to biological factors, there are many reasons for teens to feel anxious. However, we can’t let that get in the way of us succeeding. Knowing and understanding the causes of our worries is the first step to becoming more self-assured and kicking anxiety out the door.