Showcase Student Life

The Age of Anxiety

Sitting in a given class, my body knows it’s in a safe place, but my mind tells me not everything is okay. I struggle with breathing, my hands shake, and I start to cry. I wonder how I can make this feeling go away. Simply defined on, “anxiety” is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically regarding an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, each year in the United States, 6.3 million teens are faced with anxiety disorders, as well as 6.8% of the overall U.S population. Anxiety in high schoolers is a higher percentage: 30% of girls, and 20% of boys are affected, according to this data.  

Coping with anxiety can be difficult: many people try to ignore the upsetting feelings that can bring your mood down around others,  making for an uncomfortable situation. Sufferers may be worried that they “look bad” or that others may be afraid of who they are. Anxiety can also trigger one physically– for instance, waking in the morning feeling an intense heartbeat, dizziness, or struggle to breathe. This panicky feeling can carry on throughout the day making it harder to interact with others.

Many high schoolers know anxiety can give rise to feelings of embarrassment or even shame, so it’s still hard to talk about. High schoolers can be private and shy because they are going through many experiences for the first time, from romantic relationships to making adult decisions about the future. Even with school therapists and other professionals on hand, many ignore or deny the problem.According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Anxiety Disorders interfere with daily activities, jobs, school, and relationships, which can make a scary time feel more isolating and scary.

Being sociable is often necessary, whether in school or simply walking across the street. Anxiety can include antisocial disorder, characterized by disregard for other people. Avoiding any group work or social situations which may lead to bullying, rejecting people, verbal aggression and physical fighting. When facing any situation, it may conclude with having a panic or anxiety attack as well time by time may lead to depression.

    According to PSYCOM and Medical Daily,  Many people think anxiety and depression are the same. Although both are mental disorders, they each have their own meaning and some different symptoms, and having anxiety does not necessarily mean you have depression. “Depression is when you don’t care at all, but anxiety is when you care too much,” sophomore Nicole Service explains. Symptoms of depression consist of excessive moodiness, loss of interest in activities, and if not treated, suicidal thoughts, whereas anxiety is usually known for thinking ahead constantly and adding stress throughout the day.

We were able to talk to  the TL psychologist Nicole Janssen and she gave us some ways to help people to cope with anxiety. She said “I would recommend a person recognize the triggers to anxiety, for example an object or an environment, a group of people, sometimes social anxiety.”

        According to the Mayo Clinic, anxiety can affect your body in many ways. Many teens also struggle with eating disorders(any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits) which can cause many roller coaster feelings including headaches, upset stomach, breathing problems, pounding/racing hearts and increase blood pressure.

     There are both internal and external ways to help cope with anxiety. Some internal ways are  to help calm yourself when you are in a stressful situation is Fidgeting, singing in your head to ignore any bad situation, meditation, and breathing calmly are some of the most common tools for calming yourself in a panicked situation. “Great ways to cope with anxiety are to try and bring you focus to your breath and slow down your breath if you can. Mindfulness is what you call it. Reminding yourself in the moment that you’re safe and that you’re healthy,” said Astrid Kolton, school therapist.

Many high schoolers during class will get bored and start thinking about random situations. All these thoughts come together and can give one big migraines or panic/anxiety attacks. For instance, being in a third period thinking about a big test in fifth period can make a person anxious or extremely nervous, leading to increased negativity.It may also be a presentation, which can lead to stress or an anxiety attack and could even further lead to vomiting,crying, stomach pains and really hurtful headaches. Also, being new to a school –especially high school– can affect one’s moods and mental abilities, like sophomore Stella Pierce, who shared, “Freshman year was weird with older kids and the concept of high school was really scary and I felt sort of uncomfortable, but further into the year it got better. I’m more comfortable now for sure. I don’t ever feel unsafe at school”.

Beyond school and home, many suffer in sports mentally. Sports are a popular, healthy way to enjoy fresh air, release stress related to school. But, their competitive nature means not everyone releases stress; some even gain stress. Even the activities that make us happy and proud, like sports or drama, can bring about feelings of stress and pressure. It is common for students to get nervous before a sports game, a play, or presentation because of a fixed mindset. Students and athletes need to think more positively before a game, presentation, and/or play. Stella Pierce, a JV water polo player explains the feeling before a game. “A couple of the girls came up to a (girl on our team) after one of the games and were mean to her, but I’m not generally worried about that because I know I’m playing mostly fair and I’m doing what I can, so there’s no reason for them to attack me emotionally.” Anna Hooper, a performer in the Laramie Project said, “I deal with the stress and I start talking really fast, but I also want to go out there and show people what we have been working on”

At Terra Linda High School, there are on-site therapists and many trusted teachers which is all of them and one of them including Robins, who has many clubs that represent different things like the GSA which is the Gender Sexuality and the Body Positive that represents that everybody is beautiful. Also Ms. Leonhart’s  room which is welcome to any students at TL and has a comfy couch. There are many places around campus that are relaxing like the library for example or the benches near the tennis courts, or even in the hallways alone if you just need some space.

       There are many resources where many people are able to get help and get more information. When boys and girls struggle with anxiety its very overwhelming and very stressful. The teenage years are stressful, and anxiety is a part of life that most people of all ages have to deal with, so if you need any more information or need help or some one to talk to there are:

  • The ADAA : 1-240-485-1001
  • The TLHS on site Therapist, Counselor or Psychologist (located in the office)
  • Huckleberry Teen Program(415)258-4944, As well located at Montecito Plaza in between Sprint and Chipotle. ALL CALLS ARE CONFIDENTIAL
  • The Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255

As well there are remedies to help you  get through a very rough day including:

  • Meditating
  • Staying Hydrated
  • Think of positive outcomes of curtain situations
  • Have a few moments alone and think
  • Keep away from any violence or drama
  • Surround yourself with good people.
  • Asking the teacher for a walk to cool off.


  1. Great article, girls. This is an important issue that needs to be openly talked about, and I’m sure your article will reach many people and help them feel less isolated, and maybe get some support and help. That’s responsible journalism! Nice work. 🙂

  2. Hello Abby and Stephanie,

    I am one of the five administrators/teachers who will be coming to Terra Linda early February to observe your wonderful school and make recommendations for WASC (Accreditation).

    Thank you for having the courage to tackle this delicate, yet extremely important, issue… anxiety (with some mention of depression). This reminds me of my own time back in high school working on an article for my school newspaper about child abuse. I actually ended up interviewing two of our high school students (keeping their names anonymous) and describing some of the horrific episodes of abuse which they had endured. I think I remember that the story was reprinted in the local newspaper.

    Tackling issues such as these, as you have done here, is vitally important. I hope you two will continue and even reach deeper!

    Daryl Hutchins,
    WASC representative


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