Technology, dating, college, career: Here’s why today’s teens are the most anxious ever

What can be done to overcome anxiety? And why parents may be contributing to the problem.

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  • formerutahn-1 Saline, MI
    Aug. 16, 2018 12:05 p.m.

    From the article:
    "The latest DSM definition says that adults have generalized anxiety disorder when they experience three of these symptoms more days than not for six months: 1. restlessness, 2. fatigue, 3. difficulty concentrating, 4. irritability, 5. muscle tension, 6. sleep problems."

    Holy cow, I thought that was old age as I've gotten older I;
    1. Have trouble sitting for too long, 2. Get tired more easily, 3. Can't focus as well as I used to, 4. I'm told regularly that I'm REALLY cranky, 5. EVERYTHING aches, not just the muscles, 6. I get up several times to . . . well, you know, then wander around the house.

    It's nice to know it's not old age, I'm just anxious, which is probably true anyway, I'm probably anxious about getting old. Take a deep breath and smile everyone. Life is great!

  • formerutahn-1 Saline, MI
    Aug. 16, 2018 11:54 a.m.

    I've thought a lot about this lately, because I see it everywhere, and I keep returning to one thought. Kids today don't know how to fail. It's almost as if a failing grade is the end of the world. I would constantly remind my kids that there is nothing that can't be fixed with time and effort. I admit, it took me long time to figure that lesson out, but I've come to believe that there can actually be more benefit to failing, picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and trying again than there is in an easy success. My daughter is a perfectionist, and got great grades in her undergraduate work, graduated magna cum laude from her honors program, but despite all that got rejection after rejection when applying to graduate school to become a social worker. It really got to her, but I kept telling her that, especially for her chosen career, the insight and empathy she gains by failing, and learning how to fail will be far more valuable to her. Fast forward a few years, she was accepted to a prestigious program, got her degree, and has been working as a social worker for a few years now. She told me the other day, that she wouldn't trade the experience of failing for anything.

  • AllieH Bellevue, WA
    Aug. 8, 2018 10:03 a.m.

    I completely agree that teens in every era have had anxiety-provoking challenges, but this isn't a competition between generations. The headline was poorly chosen--although headlines are written to grab readers' attention--but the fact remains that anxiety in 2018 manifests and is fed differently than it was even 10 years ago, let alone 50 years ago. Information/news is transmitted at high speed and the mechanism of delivery is more invasive than ever before. As I type this, my email just "dinged" with an alert about a burglary in our neighborhood. The email hit my inbox while the neighbors are waiting for police to respond!

    So what can you do to develop resilience in kids?

    Model responsible use of technology. Put your phone away, talk to kids in your life about how technology affects you. Am I the only mom who feels a sting logging into FB and seeing friends out to a dinner I wasn't invited to?

    Let kids fail academically, socially, etc. I know, getting a bad grade can affect their college options. But the resilience gained is worth it!

    Finally, seek professional help if needed. Anxiety is real and can be debilitating. It's not weakness of character to ask for help. It's brave.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 11:16 a.m.

    Oops, I forgot to lookup something last night, but did look at it this morning before heading out the door.

    I was only partially right with my memory, no panic attacks; but with around a dozen different Anxiety related disorders; it is no wonder I might mix up a little.

    I was right in that for Generalized Anxiety Disorder; the symptoms listed in this article are only one criterion "C" with criteria labeled A-F. Without quoting in full, a summary of the other criteria for a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, one must have excessive worry about something (excessive is disproportionate to actual risk; such as not being able to even get out of bed by worrying about a test score); the person is not able stop worrying; the worry must interfere with social, occupation, or academic functioning (such as not even being able to go to school to take the test in the first place), it must last for months, and it must be the "cause" of the physical symptoms listed in this article; and all this combined is not due to any other physical or mental disorder.

    Huge difference than what this article makes it sound as if anxiety and excitement could be the same because of physical symptoms.

  • Harrison Bergeron Holladay , UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 10:24 a.m.

    Like several of you, my first thought was: anxiety is getting a draft notice, going to war, etc.

    My personal opinion is that kids don't have enough hard work to do. I think they would be less anxious and much happier if they did some hard manual labor and gave service to others on a regular basis.

  • mrjj69 bountiful, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 1:10 a.m.

    My boss, a few years back, needed to hire one person. He had 20 interviews He asked each one if they had a cell phone?? Only one did not. He got the job. My bosses logic? He said people use cell phones, have lost the ability to communicate face to face.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 4:14 p.m.

    Yikes,

    Continuing on down I see this paragraph.

    "The latest DSM definition says that adults have generalized anxiety disorder when they experience three of these symptoms more days than not for six months: 1. restlessness, 2. fatigue, 3. difficulty concentrating, 4. irritability, 5. muscle tension, 6. sleep problems. For a child, only one symptom is required."

    I am nearly 100% certain (don't have the DSM-5 in my hand this moment); that there are more criteria than just that. In fact without seeing it I am pretty sure that is only ONE criterion of several listing common observable physiological symptoms of anxiety; but I am sure there are other criteria including one about having actual panic attacks (with a full definition about what constitutes a panic attack).

    When I get home tonight, I will look it up. But, I am pretty sure, that paragraph in this article is highly misleading on diagnostic criteria.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 3:51 p.m.

    "Anxious? Try being excited, instead"

    It is kind of funny to see that, when I first saw the headline I was thinking that there was too much ambiguity to distinguish between two different uses for the word "anxious."

    "anxious >adjective 1 experiencing worry or unease. 2 very eager and concerned to do something."

    When I was a child, the word anxious may have had two meanings, but the only meaning I knew about was being anxious for things like Christmas to come, or for summer break from school. It always meant to me "excited about" something. "Eager" fits or a feeling that something can come soon enough.

    Studying psychology and anxiety related disorders; I often use the term anxious now to refer to anxiety; and yet because of my upbringing I have always felt a little apprehensive about using it that way; and thus leaving the person to whom I am speaking with the ambiguity of trying to decide if I am talking about worries or excitement. Especially given things like family gatherings which may cause anxiety; but for many it causes excitement.

    I can't think of any other word in the English language that has two meanings that are so completely opposite of each other.

  • Diligent Dave Logan, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 2:15 p.m.

    I have long tried to convey to my children the difficulties that myself & their mother have had over our lives. We didn't dwell on our difficulties so much, but perhaps ee should have a bit more.

    I think that this generation supposes in their isolation that their challenges are unique to them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Throughout my life I've struggled mightily with many huge challenges. And yep, I know also, that the challenges I have faced were not unique to me, nor to my generation alone.

    Somehow, someway, we need to convey to the younger generation early on that one can bounce back from quagmires. Often, they are quagmires that have also besieged previous generations. Things like procrastination. Feeling so overwhelmed by what one needs to do.

    My wife use to watch a lot of game shows, like The Price is Right, & Let's Make a Deal. If only making $ were so easy! This long gave her an unrealitic view of life & of $.

    Every generation faces what seem at the time to be insurmountable burdens.

    We each & all just need to begin with 1 step, then the next, & then the next, & gradually, step by step, try to work our way out of our problems, best we are able!

  • Spoons lake tahoe, NV
    Aug. 2, 2018 1:48 p.m.

    “Today’s teens most anxious ever.” I would like to see the data. Maybe Jewish teens living in Poland in the 1940s were more anxious? What about kids during the depression? During the Black Plague? Rediculous headline and assertion.

  • cyruszuo LAKE FOREST, CA
    Aug. 2, 2018 8:44 a.m.

    The idea that things are too easy today, and that is what is hard is a compelling one. There are studies that show that trying to make your child's life easier has the long term affect of making it harder.

    We learn through overcoming challenges, not by having them removed. The last two generations have had many challenges removed, perhaps too many.

  • Why would I? Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 8:35 a.m.

    Why would I be surprised (NOT) to find that today's youth tend to gravitate towards electronics rather than developing personality skills and behaviors that will help them cope in a complex world? At least they haven't had to face foreclosure, the agony of deciding what is best in treating a terminally ill parent. or having a child born with birth defects. Those are some of the surprises that life throws at you and you have to deal with them when they occur. It's a little beyond "Why is this zit so big and prominent on my face right now when I have a date this weekend" or "Why doesn't person "X" 'like me' on my social request that they friend me?" But as far as having more problems, they don't; they're just different issues. I one lost my job 6 months after buying my first home and had to turn around and sell it. Another time I and my partners had to put up our houses for collateral on a line of credit for the new business 4 of us just started. All of us faced whether or not we would be drafted and sent off to war.

    Get off the electronics; learn to develop your natural personality and abilities; life has a lot to offer- quit feeling sorry for yourself; help someone else.

  • Holy-Schamoly-What Baloney Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 7:32 a.m.

    Is this the first generation to face uncertainty and challenges in their life? My father's experience was 5 years of WWII---not knowing if he would return home normal or in a body bag, same for millions of soldiers and their families---many didn't come home; my brother and I faced the draft and the Vietnam War if we couldn't be successful in college. I wanted to study engineering but at the time, you could line up engineering grads and march them off a cliff and never miss them. That only last about 5 years, but it was when it occurred. Right after WWII inflation was tremendous. In the 1970's interest rates on a house hit 25%. Many people until 1955 had to worry about a member of their family about contracting polio. I changed careers at least 3 times in my life after getting a bachelor's degree; either adapt or wish you had. There are no guarantees.

    Today's youth have challenges---no doubt about it---but they aren't unique to the human race just since they were born. They just need mentors and initiative to manage their challenges and they'll be just fine. The sun will still come up every day and they can appreciate and enjoy life...or not. It's up to each individual.

  • Astoria Jim Mamaroneck, NY
    Aug. 2, 2018 7:25 a.m.

    James Jones, who wrote the classic World War II novel "From Here to Eternity" and many other well-received books, said young writers would often lament to him that they had wasted the previous day: they hadn't written anything, or even read anything worthwhile.
    Mr Jones would respond (I'm paraphrasing, but I have the essence of his thoughts right):
    "You don't have to always be doing something "constructive". Sometimes the best thing you can do is just take a blanket to a park, lie down on the blanket, and look up at the sky."
    It's sad that many of today's teenagers...who are often programmed more rigidly than a super-computer...are never told, and never have the opportunity, to just lie down on a blanket and look up at the sky.

  • utahute69 Laguna Niguel, CA
    Aug. 2, 2018 1:07 a.m.

    My daughter mentioned the pressures of college with exams and all the same things encountered by her parents during their college years. She was enlightened about those pressures of college when I explained that graduating from college or failing to maintain grades, in the early and mid sixties, almost guaranteed a tour of Vietnam.

  • Diligent Dave Logan, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 12:43 a.m.

    Two of my youngest children, ages 25 and 18 have had anxiety attacks the last several months. The younger has had them for years. The older perhaps as long, or longer, but has hidden it more from us (the parents). Our youngest child I have witnessed twice having them. I thought perhaps this 1 was having a heart attack.

    For a variety of reason, most of their seven siblings have also experienced great anxiety, if not anxiety attacks also, at times.

    The youngest, who has had therapy perhaps a dozen times to help this child deal with it, who is a very smart person. But almost invariably would sacrifice other obligations for social life. While getting credit on 1 or more AP test, still, high school graduation was done w/lots of D's, & by the skin of one's teeth. (This child handed in a number of assignments even up to the day of graduation, with 2 or 3 overnighters at a hotel with a sister & brother-in-law.

    I would frquently inquire of this child where things were at w/school work, encouraging this child to do certain things at diffent times to succeed.

    But the principle of sacrifice seems to be unpracticed or mispracticed by so many of this generation. Priorities are not straight