Anxiety Is On The Rise In America
Updated: Feb 10
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help
Anxiety is on the rise for young adults and adults nationwide. The most recent figures from the National Institute of Mental Health report that anxiety among teens is becoming an epidemic: 6.3 million teens face an anxiety disorder.
Currently, a major contributing factor is social media. Young adults often feel the need to obsessively follow the social media exploits of peers, respond to texts 24/7, and they can even express hurt when others do not respond to texts right away. And, turning the phone off and taking a break can seem like a foreign concept.
Another factor has been the increase in violence in our schools and our hometowns. Young adults can have high anxiety about the possibility of a shooting at a school or at the mall. And then, there is the pressure of academics and grades – with endless testing, little sleep, and the weight of trying to succeed based on adult aspirations, but all of this with an underdeveloped teen brain. Add philanthropic activities, sports, music and more, and young adults can have a very exhausting life, both physically and mentally.
Suniya Luthar, PhD, professor of psychology at Arizona State University, told the New York Times, ”These kids are incredibly anxious and perfectionistic,” but there’s “contempt and scorn for the idea that kids who have it all might be hurting ... there’s always one more activity, one more A.P. class, one more thing to do in order to get into a top college. The pressure is relentless and getting worse.”
Those in my profession know that if anxiety increases and one doesn’t have the tools to stop the spinning cycle of intrusive thoughts and feelings, the result can lead to the development of unhealthy behaviors if untreated – and possibly depression. We also know that the physical symptoms of anxiety can be troubling: from trembling to dizziness to sweating to stomach aches and even a rapid heartbeat.
Everyone feels anxious in stressful situations, and some anxiety keeps many motivated. For others, it can grind them down. If anxiety interferes with a person’s ability to function and participate in work, school or relationships, it’s probably time to seek support – and I encourage you to contact me.
Of course, there are different types of anxiety disorders. According to the American Psychiatric Association, Social Anxiety Disorder affects 15 million Americans; Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects 6.8 million; Panic Disorder affects 6 million; and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder affects 2.2 million. Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders in adolescents, affecting 1 of every 3 teens, with Social Anxiety Disorder being most common.
A teen with Social Anxiety Disorder may worry for days or weeks before a social event or presentation. They may find it hard to initiate a conversation with others in fear of being judged. They may become nauseous or panic-stricken right before a social gathering or party, and even decide not to go.
The good news is that anxiety disorders do respond very well to treatment. There are many possible therapies. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often the best. CBT teaches those dealing with anxiety to dial into what the anxiety-provoking situation is – and to learn tools that reframe past experience and possible upcoming stressful events. CBT replaces the negative, anxious thoughts with newly developed thoughts as other techniques and tools depending on the situation and type of anxiety disorder to extinguish the unhealthy anxiety.
I am certified from Stanford University in the TEAM-CBT method. (TEAM stands for Testing, Empathy, Agenda Setting and Methods.) I think TEAM is really effective at tackling anxiety issues. This didactic and cognitive approach allows the client to zero in on the anxiety-triggering events in a safe atmosphere; develop a strong toolbox to enable coping with anxiety-provoking situations; and apply these learnings in such a way that anxiety levels are reduced or even eliminated.
If you or someone you know needs help in addressing their anxieties, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anxiety disorders really can be treated successfully.
Danielle Kelmar, LCSW