28 Jan 2020
What Causes Anxiety?
28 Jan 2020
Anxiety disorders are a type of mental illness characterized by nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry. These disorders negatively alter how a person feels, processes emotions and behaves. Anxiety is a common mental health issue. A recent study found that 1 in 3 people will experience anxiety (McCarthy, 2019). Unfortunately, most young adults with anxiety disorders do not receive adequate treatment for their symptoms (Piacentini & Roblek, 2002).
Teenage years and early adulthood are tough. Difficulties can include school pressures, relationship issues, and social media. Chronic anxiety can have serious consequences — substance use, low mood, social isolation and an inability to focus in school. Constant anxiety can also wreak havoc on the body, it can lead to headaches, muscle strains, and digestive issues.
What causes anxiety for teens?
Scientifically speaking, experts on anxiety explain it is caused by both biological and environmental elements. Biologically, a young adult could inherit a tendency to be anxious. Additionally, an imbalance of two neurotransmitters in the brain (norepinephrine and serotonin) likely contribute to anxiety as well. Environmentally, a child can learn anxiety and worry from family members or other important people in their lives. A scary, difficult or traumatic event may also cause anxiety. An example of such an event is an illness, divorce or serious accident.
Those are the well-established reasons young adults may be anxious. But anxiety is on the rise, especially for young adults… why? Some contemporary factors that contribute to an increase in anxiety in young adults to are:
- Pressures in school. Standardized tests and the competition to get into a desirable post-secondary/graduate educational program can lead young adults to feel overwhelmed, scrutinized and worried.
- Social Media. Young adults can spend a considerable amount of time on various social media platforms. Constantly viewing curated images of friends, influencers and celebrities’ best moments can lead young people to feel that they are not enough. Simultaneously, when an anxious person posts an image/comment/content it can influence a person to feel vulnerable, judged and anxious about friends and stranger’s responses.
- The World is Portrayed as a Threatening Place. People are flooded with information and images related to war, school shootings, abuse, famine, environmental degradation, the list goes on. The amount of content is staggering and can lead to a perception that the world is a scary place, leading to heightened vigilance and anxiety about navigating their way through the world.
Stay tuned for my next blog post that will highlight some signs that a young adult you know about may be suffering from symptoms of anxiety. If you think that you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, feel free to book a free meet a greet with a counsellor at Natural Choice Medical Clinic in Guelph to see if counselling could help!
Marta Heinrich, BA(Hons), MA, MSW, RSW
Registered Social Worker// Psychotherapist
McCarthy, C. (2019) Anxiety in Teens is Rising: What’s Going On? American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/Pages/Anxiety-Disorders.aspx
Piacentini, J., & Roblek, T. (2002). Recognizing and treating childhood anxiety disorders. The Western journal of medicine, 176(3), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071700/
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