Performance Anxiety: Quick Road to A Failing Grade

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She could not stop trembling as she sat in her Science Option math class. Her body went numb as she took her first test of the year. All that she had learned flew out of her mind.

Her hand froze. Her vision was slowly blurring. What was wrong with her?

Hailey Steinfield, age 16, rushed to the school nurse’s office for the second time that day. Her panic attacks had become more frequent as the stress of secondary 4 overwhelmed her.

Her knee would not stop bouncing up and down while she anxiously waited for her mother to pick her up.This would not be the last time an incident like this would occur.

Hailey is not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “approximately 25% of 13 to 18-year-olds suffer from an anxiety disorder.” These numbers have been constantly rising. Between 2007 and 2012, anxiety disorders in children and teens has increased by 20%.

Research shows that young adults with anxiety disorders who go untreated are at a higher risk of performing poorly in school, engaging in substance abuse and missing out on social events.

According to Lucy Dwyer, an american psychologist, “as the number of teens who suffer from anxiety disorders continues to grow, mental health-care is increasingly part of school nurses’ job descriptions.”

Not only has the number of cases increased but their severity as well. Students have gone to seek help from school counselors due to a rise in suicidal thoughts and a decrease in academic performance due to anxiety.

Anxiety impacts a student’s memory and impairs their learning capability. A student who works anxiously has a harder time retaining information and works less efficiently.

Many teenagers feel the high expectations and the pressure to succeed, which is why anxiety has been on the rise in young adults and children since the 1950s. The increased amount of tests that teenagers must take such as SAT and AP contribute to the increased anxiety.

A young adult, Marinelli, age 17, stated, “I didn’t want to put myself under that stress, but I had to. It’s like this battle. There was a lot of pressure to succeed and do the best that I could.”

Just like Hailey, many young adults in today’s society suffer from severe anxiety and it is not recognized as much as it should be. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “ anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.”