Anna-Maria Blajer, ’20
Recently I have noticed an increase in posts about depression and anxiety made by my friends and classmates. Calls for help disguised as half jokes. Attempts to explain their emotions ended with an apology because they are afraid that they are wasting the time of others. And so they lie in their beds, submerged under their covers, scrolling through their phones hoping that the feeling goes away. It won’t, at least not easily or quickly enough.
This increase in depression and anxiety in high school students has been recorded as a nationwide phenomenon. According to Time Magazine, rates of depression among American high schoolers have increased by 37% in the last decade. This can be attributed to the stress caused by high school and the college application process, or the overall difficulty of being a teenager.
A question that is frequently brought up when using high school as an explanation of this drastic increase is ‘Why wasn’t it so bad before?’ Many adults don’t realize that many stressors have been added to a teenagers life since they were in highschool. For example, the cost of going to college has increased, and so has competitiveness. Many intelligent teens are put in serious debt because their family cannot afford to pay out of pocket. Add this to being pitted against your friends when applying to colleges and it becomes pretty difficult to continue on in sanity. It is therefore important for incoming freshman to be aware of stressors they might encounter in high school.
These stressors may include handing in essays on time, drama between friends, pressure coming from your family, and also pressure to participate in as many extracurriculars as you can right away. It is important to remember that you can’t please everyone at the same time, therefore only focus on pleasing yourself. Setting your own goals, instead of having them set for you allows you to be in control of what you do. It takes some of the pressure off, as long as you are realistic. Don’t aim to immediately become the top of your class, or to juggle 6 different extracurriculars. Focus on your classwork, do your best to participate in class if you feel up to it, and complete all of your homework. This will help you decrease any school related stress.
Its also important to remember to do what you love. Don’t give up on hobby or a sport because of school work. Physical activity releases dopamine in your brain, which is a chemical responsible for happiness. A sport will improve your mood and it’s a good way to rest your mind, while your body works.
Of course, these are all tips that may or may not help. If you are feeling depressed or overly anxious about something, do not hesitate to talk to someone. That could be one of your close friends, a parent, or a guidance counselor. There is help out there, you just need to reach out to someone who cares about you.