It’s common for high school students to feel down, whether it be stress-induced anxiety, “senioritis” or just a lack of motivation, but perhaps what students are experiencing is something more serious.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 25.1 percent of teens age 13 to 18 are affected by anxiety disorders.
“Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences and engage in substance abuse,” the ADAA said.
Available forms of treatments include anxiety medication, hospitalization, psychotherapy, Trans-cranial Magnetic Stimulation, etc.
Another common mental disorder is bipolar disorder. This is “a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypo-mania) and lows (depression),” according to Mayo Clinic.
Common symptoms are unpredictable mood swings and sudden changes in behavior. Many who suffer from this disorder experience stress and difficulties in daily life.
Caitlyn Lewis, senior, said bipolar disorder affected her everyday “by really just being out of control of myself. It was my emotions controlling me.”
The three main types of bipolar disorder are Bipolar I disorder, Bipolar II disorder and Cyclothymic disorder.
Bipolar I disorder is when a person experiences “at least one manic episode that may be preceded or followed by hypo-manic or major depressive episodes. In some cases, mania may trigger a break from reality (psychosis),” according to Mayo Clinic.
Bipolar II is when someone has “at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypo-manic episode, but you’ve never had a manic episode,” according to Mayo Clinic.
Cyclothymic disorder is the diagnoses for someone who has had “at least two years — or one year in children and teenagers — of many periods of hypo-mania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms (though less severe than major depression),” according to Mayo Clinic.
“Basically being bipolar, it’s like there’s a normal range of emotion for everybody else that fluctuates up and down, but for people with bipolar disorder, it goes to the extreme, so I will get unreasonably angry, sad, happy at things,” Lewis said.
Bipolar disorder can be helped with medication, therapy and hospitalization.
Panic disorder is defined as when someone experiences several recurrent and unexpected sudden panic attacks of fear that last for several minutes that span over at least a month.
Panic attacks are characterized by feelings of large discomfort and fear in addition to at least four of the following symptoms: palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, feelings of choking, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, chills or hot flashes, numbness or tingling sensations, derealization, depersonalization, fear of losing control and fear of death.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Panic disorder often begins in the late teens or early adulthood. More women than men have panic disorder.”
Panic disorder can be treated with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that is characterized by “an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development,” according to NIMH.
A CDC published study from 2016 found that 6.1 million children aged two-17 years old had been diagnosed with ADHD in the U.S.
Symptoms can include being off task, being disorganized, lacking focus, lacking drive to complete a task, being fidgety, moving around frequently, needing to stand up and walk around, frequent talking and impulsivity.
However, inattention in ADHD is not caused by ignorance.
According to NIMH, “Some people with ADHD only have problems with one of the behaviors, while others have both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.”
Senior Sophia Rios-Gotto, who suffers from acute ADHD, said, “For people with ADHD, you don’t have one song stuck in your head, you usually have three to four depending on how bad it is…Which gets slightly annoying, because you are actually trying to concentrate on things and do one homework assignment without thinking about the color pink or elephants in the zoo or the tiles on the floor. It’s crazy.”
Three primary types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.
People with anorexia nervosa suffer from “a distorted body image that causes them to see themselves as overweight even when they’re dangerously thin,” according to the American Psychological Association (APA). Those afflicted with anorexia nervosa can refuse to eat, compulsively exercise and partake in dangerous diets. This all leads to massive weight loss, but this may also lead to starvation or death.
Those with bulimia nervosa will eat large amounts of food, and then purge that food using methods like laxatives, vomiting, exercising, etc. According to the APA, those who suffer from bulimia nervosa can “feel disgusted and ashamed as they binge, yet relieved of tension and negative emotions once their stomachs are empty again.”
Binge eating disorder is similar to bulimia nervosa, however the individual does not purge, following the binge.
Depression is widely considered to be the most common of mental disorders according to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Statistics provided by SAMHSA in 2016 estimated 3.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 have had at least one major depressive episode. That number represents almost 13 percent of adolescents.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) clinically defines depression as, “A period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, self-image or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.”
Fortunately, there are two main treatments, psychotherapy and antidepressant medicine, that help make depression manageable.
Senior Olivia Bickford, who suffers from depression, said, “Sometimes [depression is] really dark, and it’s really heavy, and it hangs over you and kind of affects everything you do. Other days, [depression is] kind of, you know, in the back of your mind, but you might think of it every now and then.”
Medicine can help make depression manageable.
“Sometimes I’m less focused on class, and I’m nervous to raise my hand out of fear of ridicule from my classmates,” said one respondent to an ECHO survey when asked how having depression affected school life.
Mental health issues affect a number of high schoolers. According to teenmentalhealth.org, “One in five young people suffer from a mental illness.”
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health issue, you can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. According to its website, “The lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.”
This is Senior Trinity Madison’s first year on ECHO staff. She now serves as Advertising / Business Manager after a year of training and contributory writing in journalism class.
This is news editor Ethan Weihl’s first year on ECHO staff. He is excited to begin his work on the ECHO. He has not decided on college yet, but he wants to major in Political Science and Journalism.
This will be Elise Keller’s second year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her freshman year.