How to Recognize Anxiety in Yourself

"Anxiety is complex but you have the skills within you to identity and respond to your own mental health symptoms by being empowered with information." By Kendall Louden

Being a teen or emergent adult is not easy. Older millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers can take for granted how hard it can be. When they see a teen or young adult feeling miserable, they might think that he or she chooses to be that way or that they should just cope with the fact that life is tough. Friends might even think the same thing and leave someone feeling isolated and alone. The best posture people could take when they see a friend experiencing mental health difficulties is one of understanding and support. We should assume that adolescents and emergent adults experiencing mental health difficulties are doing the best they can.

If general daily occurrences were already challenging enough, one might wonder how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lived experience of a teen or young adult. Still early in the research, but the number of adolescents that experience depression and anxiety is alarming. 1 in 5 teens and young adults live with a mental health condition, with anxiety disorders being the most prevalent mental health conditions. The most frequently observed symptoms are difficulty concentrating, boredom, irritability, restlessness, nervousness, loneliness, uneasiness and worry.

Half of all lifetime mental illnesses begins by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24. This is a very important statistic for readers of Peer. National surveys show that young people will turn to their friends for support before a parent, sibling, significant other, teacher, online service or professional/school service. If you or a friend of yours is experiencing a possible anxiety disorder, knowing when to seek help is important.

You might be wondering at what point should I seek help from a professional? This answer varies depending on the symptoms you might be experiencing, but a good rule of thumb to follow is the two-week rule. If you are experiencing symptoms for longer than two weeks, and your typical coping mechanisms are not working, it might be time to ask yourself if you need additional aid from a mental health professional.

There is an easy way to assess your own need for professional help. This is called the 4 Ds: Deviant, Depressing, Debilitating, and Duration. Each of these words poses its own question to ask yourself when you are experiencing some symptoms of anxiety.

Deviant means you might be doing something that you are ashamed of, or would be very fearful to admit to another person. If you feel you are engaging in a behavior that is deviant, for more than two weeks without change, it might be time to talk to a professional helper.

Depressing means the symptoms you are experiencing are very bothersome and impacting your quality of life. If you feel this way for longer than two weeks, it might be a good idea to seek some aid.

Debilitating means it is stopping you from enjoying life or the symptoms are getting in the way of functioning in everyday life. If you feel stopped in your tracks by your symptoms, it may be time to get help from a professional.

And, finally, the duration follows the two-week rule mentioned above.

Anxiety is complex but you have the skills within you to identity and respond to your own mental health symptoms by being empowered with information. Our hope is that conversations in the media about mental health are making an impact on young adults. There is no shame in seeking help to provide a more positive environment and lived experience for yourself or others.

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Kendall is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She received her Master of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from Asbury Theological Seminary. Kendall is a Salvationist who loves connecting with people through conversation. She and her husband, Caleb, and their daughter Caroline, live in the bustling city of Atlanta.  

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