by Haley DeBok
Are you ever nervous or fearful in front of other people? Well, you are not alone. I have always suffered from social anxiety and have been afraid of being myself in front of other people. A lot of my anxiety came in the form of not being able to form correct sentences in front of others, stuttering, excessive sweating, and occasionally trembling. For a while, no one noticed or thought that I was suffering from anxiety until one day when my parents noticed that I was having a hard time talking to some family friends, I was very nervous and stumbling over my own words. After this incident, they started to get worried and decided that I needed help in some way. So when I was picking my classes for my first year of middle school, my parents saw theatre as a choice and told me that I should try it out. So I decided to try it out and instantly fell in love with it. I knew it would be hard for me at first but I decided that I had nothing to lose and to give it a shot. Throughout my time doing theatre, I saw many people that had anxiety like me and it was amazing to watch us all break out of our shells and become more social. Doing theatre throughout high school and middle school showed me how to be myself and helped me with my anxiety.
Many people, especially adolescents, suffer from some type of anxiety and depression. Anxiety is the feeling of worry, nervousness, or uneasiness in certain situations. In addition to anxiety, many people also suffer from depression which is a mental health disorder where you are constantly in a depressed mood and have a loss of interest in activities. Anxiety disorders affect 1 in 8 children. 80% of children with anxiety and 60% of children with depression are not getting the treatment they need (1). In general, 3% to 5% of people suffer from major depression sometime in their lives and the lifetime risk is 17%(1). This is a huge issue and it needs to be addressed in some way. One way that anxiety and depression are identified is by having a trained medical professional evaluate the patient. Some treatments for anxiety are self-care (exercise, relaxation techniques), therapies, and medication. In addition, some treatments for depression are somewhat similar to anxiety, with therapy and medication being the major treatments for it.
One organization that is trying to help this problem is the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). They are a non-profit that is focused on the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety, depression, and other disorders (2). One of their missions includes improving the quality of life for people with anxiety, depression, and other disorders through the use of research, treatment, support, and education. On their website, they have a lot of advice for parents and for people on how to help with anxiety and depression. It is very important for parents and guardians to know signs and ways to help their children be able to thrive in social settings and how to help them. In addition, another way to help would be for schools to maybe require some type of “social” class for students, like theatre, chorus, etc. Most people have reported that these types of classes are beneficial for their social interactions and helped shape them into who they are today (2). There are many other treatment options like medication and therapy that can help someone with anxiety and depression (2).
Overall, make sure to check in on friends and family. Make sure they are okay because most of the time you won’t be able to tell if someone has anxiety or depression. Another thing you can do is be educated on what anxiety and depression are and what they could possibly look like. It can look different in different people but it is important to know the signs in order to help people that need help. One way to help educate yourself is to check out the ADAA’s educational resources page (https://adaa.org/educational-resources) to learn more about how to help yourself and others. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression please do not be afraid to get help. I promise you are not alone and there are people who want to help you. If you would like to talk to someone about getting help, you can contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This is a free and confidential treatment referral and information service (3).
1. CDC https://www.cdc.gov/
2. ADAA https://adaa.org/