Anxiety, the adolescent epidemic
Lately in the United States, there has been a notable increase in cases of anxiety in children and adolescents. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety is the most common disorder, affecting about one-third of the population.
An article published in the Fox News in October 2017 highlights the causes of this increase.
On the one hand, privileged class adolescents are the ones with the most emotional distress. This is because they are extremely perfectionist. That is to say, they try to achieve their objectives with a very high performance that must always give them the best results.
On the other hand, for other young people, it is more of a problem of expectations. This is because they never find the point where they can say “I’ve done enough, now I can stop”. Children have the feeling that they always have to face more and more challenges, more and more complicated, and the pressure is getting worse. Thus, they are unable to set realistic goals and realize when they have been achieved in order to assess their achievement.
While it is important for parents to praise their children, they are not the only people involved in getting children to accept themselves. The children also try to answer the question “Am I good enough?” The answers they get both from the way they handle themselves on the football field, as well as from their performance at school or how many “likes” they have on their Instagram. The problem is what definition they have of sufficient since it is very difficult to become “enough” when this goal is missed even if you achieve some objectives.
When dealing with these issues, many parents tell their children that they should be the best at everything and this makes them afraid to show their defects and insecurities.
Another problem for parents of anxious teens is that they often don’t know how to act, so they feel desperate and question every step they take – or don’t take – asking themselves over and over again, “Have I done enough? When they are unable to answer these questions, parents’ anxiety increases and is projected in their way of acting towards their children and they appropriate their parents’ anxiety.
In Dr. Carbonell’s opinion, there is no doubt that anxiety is going to be the disease of the 21st century in adolescents, either because of perfectionism or expectations; they feel exposed to suffering from a disorder that parents do not know how to help with. It is important to find a balance between expectations and objectives and to seek the help of a professional if necessary.