A student’s struggle with stress


Alex Somers

Stressed out student

Alex Somers and Zack Dailey

There’s no question that today’s teens seem to suffer from anxiety and depression. More so than they have in the past. Our parents don’t seem to recall many kids having these mental issues back before the turn of the century. In fact, according to a group called Monitoring the Future, this increase in depression started happening in 2013 (Shakya). Keep in mind, this organization has been analyzing teens since the 70s. So we’re left with the question: What’s causing mental anguish within teens? 

There are many factors to consider for this issue. The most burning one appears to be smart phones. These devices became popular in the early 2010s, along with social media such as instagram. Conveniently, this is the same time depression and anxiety seemed to increase. So what causes these pesky things to be so harmful? Well according to Mrs. Ryan, a school counselor, “A lot lies within the comparisons and lack of face-to-face contact.“

She explained that while scrolling through instagram, “The timeline is filled with celebrities looking their best and classmates doing something interesting.” It’s easy to become envious of these people, as the viewer of these photos are offered a snapshot into these people’s lives. We assume the photos are perfect representations of them. Little do we know that photos on social media are merely just an image, and in no way show how these people truly live. When one compares themselves all the time, there can be a negative impact on self-esteem. 

Ryan also explained that, “Part of what makes people human is the innate need to socialize with people.” Throughout all of human history, we’ve done this through face-to-face conversation. That is, until text messaging became popular. Texting takes away the need for people to meet up, and causes one to be content with not being with their friend, but rather chatting with them through cell phones. Obviously, people nowadays still socialize with their friends, but social media makes it easier for people to sit around doing nothing – as they still feel like they’re interacting with people. An anonymous student reported that, “Phones have a lot to do with procrastination as there are many aspects of them which can be distracting.” Perhaps the lack of genuine human interaction is causing people to become sad as they’re not fulfilling their natural instincts. 

Lynn Lyons, a psychotherapist, also believes human nature plays a role in depression and anxiety, as she elaborated about this topic in her presentation. She believes that a big problem with raising kids today is that we coddle them, prevent them from making their own choices, and learning from their mistakes. We teach them to avoid problems altogether, to fulfill the desire for “comfort” and “certainty.” The brain’s natural chemistry requires people to confront things that are scary and stressful. This allows the brain to build proper mechanisms to deal with these things. If kids aren’t encouraged to step out of their comfort zone, they lose an important life skill for their teenage years – a time where parents will stop intervening in their child’s life. 

The most troubling problem about this issue is that there is no way to truly determine what causes it. The brain is very complex, so it’s difficult to pinpoint specific factors that cause it anguish. The only thing that can be done is to reinforce a healthy lifestyle that involves social interaction, limited phone use, and repeatedly stepping out of your comfort zone.