In middle school, one of my friends started to show signs of an anxiety disorder. It wasn’t too bad, but it restricted some of the things she used to do easily, like go out into crowds or talk to people she didn’t know. For a long time, especially through high school, she became depressed because of she couldn’t do the things she used to do. However, with some help she was able to overcome her anxiety and start to live the life she always wanted. Many teens and adolescents never get the help and support they need, and many families don’t recognize just how serious anxiety can become.

Recently, a new study was conducted by The School of Nursing of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Christian Family Service Centre. The purpose of the study was to examine the family life, physical and emotional health of high school students.

One of the most common types of anxiety disorder is GAD, or generalized anxiety disorder. The recent study examined a selection of high school students with a variety of anxiety disorders, primarily GAD and few other types of related anxiety disorder. Most people, including adolescents and teens experience anxiety at some point or another. Usually these bouts are short and fleeting, but sometimes they can turn into chronic disorders. When this happens, the anxiety can lead to depression. To cope with the stress, people often turn to risky behavior and habits like smoking and drug and alcohol use. These actually make the anxiety worse however, and these individuals become caught in a vicious cycle. 

The recent study sought to determine what factors were likely to appear in teens suffering from chronic anxiety. The study was stretched out over three years from 2011 to 2013 and included 11,335 participants. It was found through questionnaires that 12% of the teens experienced moderate levels of anxiety two week prior to the first questionnaire, and 5.7% experienced frequent periods of severe anxiety.

Further questionnaires were used to determine what the common symptoms of anxiety were as well as what the physical and emotional health of the teens was.  Questions in the survey collected information about the participants physical and emotional health conditions, stress about schoolwork, and levels of satisfaction in academic achievement, life orientations and perceptions about parents' psychological control over them. Most of the data has been completed, but more is still being process. The full report is expected sometime in early 2014.

The research results showed that students who suffered from severe levels of anxiety in the two weeks prior to the first survey were worse off in terms of physical health and mental health. Of the 614 students who reported experiencing severe levels of anxiety, 86.3% of them further reported feeling pressure of homework, compared to the 61.5% of 10,295 students who reported not having severe levels of anxiety. The data also suggested that the more severe the anxiety, the more likely it is that the teens would also display signs of depression. The researchers suggest that depression and anxiety should be addressed early by parents through positive communication and being aware of their child’s struggles.

Source: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2013, October 6). Association between adolescents' anxiety, depressive symptoms. ScienceDaily.

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