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Mental Health Moment

Posted: Tuesday, August 3, 2021, 11:55 AM

A Rise in Anxiety Among Teenagers

The prevalence of adolescents reporting that they are experiencing anxiety has been increasing over the past decade. In the adolescent population, one in three will experience an anxiety disorder at some point as reported by the National Institutes of Health. 

Emotional and Mental Health responses, one of the topics measured by the National Survey of Children’s Health, indicated a 20 percent increase in the prevalence of anxiety among adolescents between 2007 and 2012.  The CDC reports that anxiety is more prevalent among adolescents than depression or behavior disorders. The National Institute of Mental Health reported in 2017 that 31.9 percent of adolescents will experience an anxiety disorder.

Current research indicates a significant decline in mental health among youth during the Covid-19 pandemic when compared to pre-pandemic measures. In July of 2020, the research conducted by Hawke and colleagues indicated that 68.4 percent and 39.9 percent of youth in the clinical and community sample met criteria for internalizing disorders when assessed with the NIMH Crisis tool. 

The DSM-V list several anxiety disorders including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobias, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Selective Mutism, and Medication-Induced Anxiety.  Among the listed disorders, there are certain criteria that an individual must meet in order to be diagnosed with a specific disorder. Some of those symptoms might include fear, avoidance, and trouble sleeping and somatic symptoms such as an increase muscle tension, increased heart rate, stomachaches, and trembling.

More specifically, the GAD assessment measures the symptoms of feeling nervous, anxious or on edge; not being able to stop or control worrying; worrying too much about different things; trouble relaxing; being so restless that it’s hard to sit still; becoming easily annoyed or irritable; and feeling afraid as if something awful might happen.  In some adolescents anxiety can present as anger.  In order to diagnose, the symptoms must interrupt or have a negative impact on daily functioning.

Anxiety can originate from a variety of situations or predispositions. Anxiety can be caused by genetics or environmental factors, such as stress or developmental factors. Anxiety can be triggered or can increase from a multitude of circumstances such as school environment, social media, trauma, and specific situations that cause worry or avoidance.

If you feel that you or your adolescent is experiencing anxiety and it is causing a difficulty functioning on a daily basis, please seek help with a professional. You can call Goodall-Witcher Behavioral Health Department at 254-675-8621, Ext. 7853 to speak with a professional or schedule an appointment. For more information about the Behavioral Health Dept, please visit our services page: https://bit.ly/3kI8ObB.

Mindy Webb, M.S., LPC-Associate, Behavioral Health

Supervisor: Courtney Mayfield, M.S., LPC-S

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