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Anxiety, Stress, and Depression
Anxiety and stress are part of everyday life. Normal activities like taking tests, going on a date, speaking in public, and meeting new people can make you feel uneasy and apprehensive. Some degree of stress and anxiety is healthy and desirable as it can help you through tense situations.
But sometimes, those feelings can get in the way of your daily life. You might find yourself feeling restless or irritable, having trouble sleeping, concentrating, or focusing. Many teens struggle with anxiety, depression, and stress; know that you are not alone.
Juggling schoolwork, preparing for exams, competing in sports, participating in extracurricular activities, and all the social challenges of fitting in can make your middle and high school years difficult. Some teens also find themselves facing serious life events such as a family divorce, a breakup, or having to move.
Stress comes from change - and students your age face changes every day! It’s perfectly normal to feel sad or irritable, and it's more common than you may think. Finding healthy coping strategies is key. You could try:
- Relaxation techniques – practicing deep breathing exercises, listening to music or a podcast, yoga, or meditation might help.
- Blow off some steam through physical activity – walking or jogging, swimming, bike riding, weightlifting, or other aerobic exercises might do the trick.
- Get some sleep – very few teens get enough sleep daily. See if you can fit in a few extra ZZZs.
- Develop a gratitude journal that focuses on what’s positive about your life.
- Play a musical instrument or turn to other hobbies you might enjoy, like painting or sketching, sewing, or reading.
- Talk to someone – a friend, parent, or professional could help you through this.
For some teens, these sad and irritable feelings may become so intense they feel hopeless and helpless, and they may be facing mental health issues. While that may sound scary or embarrassing, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You wouldn’t be down on yourself for getting the flu or pulling a muscle. It is the same with your mental health. And while it can feel intensely isolating, YOU are not alone! In fact, one out of three Michigan high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row, so they stopped doing some usual activities.
How do you know when the feelings have gone from regular teen anxiety and stress to something more serious? According to the American Psychological Association, symptoms of depression could include:
- Depressed mood. All-day. Every day. For days.
- Unintentional, significant weight loss.
- Not having any energy even after you’ve slept well.
- Feeling worthless or guilty.
- Having a hard time concentrating or making decisions.
- Thoughts of death or ending your life.
There is help and hope so you can feel better! Don’t hide it -- it’s not your fault or anything you’ve done. It is a medical issue, just like healing a broken bone. Please talk to a trusted adult and seek help from a trained professional. You can always submit a tip to OK2SAY.
Remember, mental health issues are not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It takes courage to ask for help.
- Crisis Text Line serves anyone in any type of crisis: Visit https://www.crisistextline.org or Text “START” to 741741
- Michigan Suicide Prevention Coalitions and Crisis Lines provide a list of suicide prevention coalitions or crisis lines in each county.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call a counselor at 1-800-273-8255 or participate in the Lifeline Chat, which connects you for emotional support and other services via web chat.
- National Helpline 1-800-662-4357 provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
- The Trevor Project – A confidential hotline for LGBTQ youth. There is also a chat, text, support space, and social networking space.