Have you ever felt the sensation of having butterflies in your stomach? Maybe your legs went numb at the prospect of delivering a speech in front of a large group of expectant people? That’s normal! Everybody experiences feelings of anxiousness in their lives. Anxiety is a physiological response that is triggered when danger is sensed or predicted. It is instilled in all humans to produce the “fight or flight” response essential to survival. Most of the time, it fades away when it is realized that there is no danger. However, for some, this response can be triggered more often than not, causing excessive anxiety.

Unfortunately, in many schools across the nation, anxiety has become a bigger and bigger problem for students over the years. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reported that approximately 25% of teens are experiencing an anxiety disorder. It is a problem that is best addressed in the earlier stages of its development. Students and teachers should know the signs and causes of anxiety so that they can be equipped to fight against it.

Excessive anxiety among students is a problem with observable traits and can be triggered by multiple factors. Because it can worsen over time, it should be quickly addressed and treated.

Signs Of Anxiety In School

Anxiety traits can be difficult to identify in some cases, as many affected individuals suffer internally. However, some signs indicating anxiety are difficulty speaking, breathing, or focusing in certain situations. Other anxiety traits are more apparent, such as disruptive or angry behavior, feeling unwell, or suffering panic attacks.

However, some of these anxiety traits can be mistaken for another problem. For example, students who feel unwell as a result of their anxiety may be excused for being sick. Students who become disruptive may be dismissed for behavioral issues solely. This can prevent anxiety from being properly addressed and treated.

Causes Of Anxiety In School

There can be many triggers of anxiety among students while they are in school. Some of these triggers are nerve-wracking situations, such as presenting in front of the class or being called on by an instructor. Although such situations may not evoke fear in some students, for others, it can be very difficult. Students may not like to be the center of attention, most often due to the fear of being judged by their peers. This fear can trigger an anxious response.

For teens, there can be multiple other causes of anxiety in school. Some high school students may have a rigorous class schedule and may be preoccupied with managing good grades to keep their GPA up. Others may be finding it stressful to keep up with a heavy workload. Some may even worry about their future beyond high school. All of these situations happen frequently in a school setting and can trigger anxiety among students.

Effects Of Anxiety In School

If left unaddressed for too long, students struggling with excessive anxiety may see some negative effects in their school lives. Since excessive anxiety can affect a student’s ability to focus, they may not find it easy to pay attention during lectures. Because they may not be able to retain information presented during these lectures, their grades will drop. Some students may distance themselves from their peers and avoid participating in group work. Others may even take days off of school if they are expected to present or perform in front of their class. All of these effects prove how anxiety can damage a student’s overall performance in school.

Unfortunately, some affected students, commonly teenagers, can become depressed as a result of their anxiety and can go so far as to take their own lives. Cindy Zellefrow, a school nurse in Grove City, Ohio, says that she typically sees “three to five suicidal kids each year”. However, in the 2013-2014 school year, Zellefrow said that she “treated 12 students whose anxiety was causing suicidal thoughts”. Because of its negative and sometimes harmful effects on students, anxiety needs to be addressed and treated.

Potential Solutions

Excessive anxiety is a problem among students with many causes and negative effects. However, affected students can be treated. Because it can be difficult for students to become open about their struggle, parents and teachers should encourage them to do so. It should be known among students that it is okay to talk about any problems they are experiencing. It is not a sign of weakness; it takes mental strength to be open about any internal struggles, and is very healthy in the long run.

Schools should also provide more education on anxiety disorders and mental health in general. This will keep students, teachers, and parents well-informed and able to recognize the signs of those affected with anxiety disorders. They will be less likely to mistake this problem with another, allowing it to be properly addressed and solved.

To connect students who are dealing with the same problem, schools could provide after-school programs to help aid students who are experiencing anxiety symptoms. Not only will students realize that they are not alone, but they will also discover ways to cope with anxious feelings. Some of these coping methods include meditation and breathing exercises.

Overall, anxiety is a normal response that every student will experience. It becomes an issue when it is triggered so often that it prevents the student from reaching their full potential in school. It is a treatable problem with recognizable traits, and if addressed properly, there should be a significant decrease in the amount of anxious students across the nation.