Young people with Anxiety

Anxiety is a condition that can affect anyone – it doesn’t distinguish between age, background or social group. Even some of the most confident people you know may have suffered with anxiety. Recent research suggests that as many as 1 in 6 young people will experience an anxiety condition at some point in their lives, this means that up to 5 people in your class may be living with anxiety, whether that be OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), social anxiety and shyness, exam stress, worry or panic attacks.

Many anxiety disorders begin in childhood and adolescence, and the average time a person waits to seek help for their condition (particularly for OCD and chronic worrying or GAD as it is known) is over 10 years! That is a long time to be feeling anxious. You can save yourself a lot of stress by getting help sooner rather than later. At Anxiety UK we have trained volunteers who have lived with anxiety themselves. They are available Monday to Friday 9.30-6.00 and can help you decide what a good next step is for you. You don’t have to suffer in silence.

Prevalence of anxiety & depression in UK 16-18s

1 in 10 young people experience a mental health disorder (Green et al 2005)

Increase in prevalence of mental health problems at 16-19 (Singleton et al 2001)

Over half of all mental ill health starts by age 14 and 75% develops by age 18 (Murphy and Fonagy 2012)

Anxiety and depression are most common mental health difficulties and these have high co-morbidity (Green et al 2005)

Untreated anxiety or depression can have a significant impact on employment, income and relationship stability in adult life (Goodman Joyce and Smith 2011; Green et al 2005)

The Stressed Out project is designed to support young people who are experiencing anxiety and stress. There are a number of services that are designed for young people which you can access by becoming a member of Anxiety UK. If you do not wish to become a member, you can still access information and support through our email information service and national helpline.

It can often be difficult to discuss how you feel with other people, especially if you think that no one else feels the same, or that they won’t understand. You may feel that you don’t fully understand what is happening to you, which can make it very hard to explain to others exactly what you are going through. Often, experiencing anxiety can leave you feeling tired, upset and frustrated. This can make you feel that you are unable to cope or that there is nothing that you can do to improve the situation.

Anxiety can affect us all in very different ways. Experiences of anxiety can vary greatly from person to person and no two people are the same. If you feel that any of the experiences or symptoms described on these pages apply to you, then we may be able to help.

First of all, anxiety is completely normal! It is something that we all experience to some level. Anxiety is useful to us as it tells us that something is dangerous and that we need to be careful. However, if anxiety gets out of control or stops you from doing everyday things, then this can lead to us feeling unhappy, upset and frustrated.

Here are some examples of how you might feel if you are anxious:

  • Worried
  • Upset
  • Thinking unpleasant thoughts
  • Thinking that you might

When anxiety gets really strong, you might experience what we call a “panic attack”. This is when your body is getting ready to fight, freeze or to run away from the situation that we are viewing as dangerous. This is known as the fight, flight or freeze response. Again, it can be quite scary to experience, although we know that it will not hurt you.

One of the ways to reduce the anxiety that you are feeling is to understand it better. By understanding how anxiety works, you can then understand why you feel that way and it will help you to break the vicious circle of anxiety that just makes things worse. The picture below can help to explain what happens when we get anxious.


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