Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Young People
Living with Anxiety as a Teenager
Recognising the signs of anxiety in young people can be very difficult. Often, young people themselves don’t recognise that they are experiencing symptoms of anxiety and instead suffer in silence. By learning from the experiences of others we can gain an understanding of what it’s like to live with anxiety and help young people affected become successful adults.
Living with Anxiety Symptoms
Although I excelled academically, I hated school more than anyone I know. There were days when I struggled to leave the house and would pretend I was sick so I could stay home. I imagined the worst case scenario in every situation and spent hours worrying about making mistakes. Because of this, I often only got a few hours sleep which affected my school work and my moods.
Every decision I make is affected by my anxiety and I hate that I have missed so many opportunities as a result of it. While people from school were out socialising and forming friendships I was often unable to leave my house as I didn’t want anyone to see me. Over time, my friends started to think that I was lazy or didn’t want to hang out with them and gradually distanced themselves. If only they had known that I was not isolating myself through choice. Instead of going out and having fun I was at home, crying, feeling hopeless.
The Hidden Signs of Anxiety
In the past, I have been told that that I am ‘frustrating’ and ‘too sensitive’, as if I choose to feel this way.
People just didn’t understand how much I struggled because I didn’t display any physical signs of anxiety in front of them. They didn’t see me crying, shaking and having panic attacks in my room. They couldn’t feel the weight of the anxiety I carry around with me every second of every day. I wouldn’t have known how to explain my feelings to them anyway. I worried that I would share my struggles and people would continue to think that I was just sensitive and weak.
Why Support Matters
It was a massive relief when I was recently diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. I finally have a reason why I struggle with everyday situations that seem so easy to other people.
Although I know it will be tough, I am hopeful that I can learn to manage my anxiety with the right support.
It is a common misconception that young people can’t have anxiety as they don’t have ‘real adult problems’ to deal with. This is just not true. My anxiety is a mental illness which I will live with for the rest of my life. It’s not a sign of weakness, and it is definitely not a choice, it’s just something that I need to manage.
People tend to judge what they don’t understand. But if a lack of understanding is stopping young people from getting help then it needs to be addressed now. The more people understand mental health, the less stigma will be attached and the more comfortable people will feel opening up about their depression and anxiety. Maybe then, young people will be able to grow up without ridicule and judgement because of mental illness.
Many people living with a mental illness do not receive the help and support they need. To save lives we need to better understand mental illness in young people.
Show your support by signing our petition to increase government funding for mental illness research in children and young lives.