Teenagers and Stress: Where to Turn When Life Gets Tough
by Isabelle King

Being a teenager is arguably one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do in your life. The hormones are raging, you’re socially awkward and just looking for a place to belong. Academically school is transitioning from the fun time for coloring and collaging to serious work with grades. And pressure. You’re being bombarded with stress from every angle. The numerous stressors come together to manifest in feelings of anxiety and depression. You are not alone.

We have a stigma in this country that it’s not okay to talk about your mental health . We have an unspoken rule that it’s okay to talk about whatever ailments you may have, as long they’re found from the neck down. Anything going on between your ears, though-  well, that’s not to be talked about. That’s not how it should be. You are not alone.

It’s natural to feel like no one else understands what you are going through. The truth is 80% of kids are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of Maine. 60% of kids feel depressed. You are not alone.

The first thing to do when you start feeling anxious or depressed is to talk to someone. Let someone be there for you, lean on someone else for support. Get the thoughts out of your head. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Talk to a friend, a teacher, a guidance counselor, someone who can listen. You are not alone.

Everybody needs to be aware that 80% of teenagers suffer from anxiety and 60% from depression. We need to be on constant look out for anyone around us who might be suffering silently, who needs our help. Know the signs. If someone stops showing interest or stops caring about anything,  has a bleak outlook on life, looks drained or tired all the time, or is abusing alcohol or drugs, it can be a sign especially when coupled together. Be on the lookout for signs in your friends. You are not alone.

It can be scary to talk to someone about something that feels so personal. Most of the time what people who are suffering really need is to know you’re there for them, to know someone cares. Breaching such a hard and scary topic can be as easy as saying, “I’ve noticed you’ve been acting a little different lately are you okay?” “I’ve been concerned about you.” From there just talk and listen. Great questions to ask are things like, “How long have you been feeling this way?” “How can I best support you right now?” “Have you thought about getting help?” You are not alone.

It’s important to remember to stay positive and hopeful for this person. Give them a good atmosphere and environment. “Tell me what I can do now to help you.” “I’m here for you.” “It will get better. No matter how much you may not believe it, it will get better.” “I may not understand what you’re going through, but I am here for you.” “You are important to me. Your life is important to me.” “When you feel like giving up, just keep telling yourself to hold on for another day just keep holding.” These are all things you can and should say to someone who is anxious or depressed. You are not alone.  

What you shouldn’t say is, “This is all in your head.” “What’s wrong with you?” “Shouldn’t you be better by now.”

Don’t wait until it’s too late to help someone. No matter your relationship with someone, everyone can help each other. Start breaking the stigma. Just talk it out. Be there. Be alert. Be a friend. Don’t wait until something happens to start having the conversation. Showing support and sensitivity only in the wake of tragedy doesn’t prevent further tragedy. Don’t wait until it’s too late. You are not alone.