The stress is killing me!


Aelise Gagliano

Student stresses over the number of homework assignments due before the week is over. When projects and homework overwhelm students’ “to-do” lists, students start to feel overwhelmed and helpless, which may result in more serious health issues.

Abri Hausman, Staff Writer

According to an NYU study on stress and students’ coping mechanisms, just under half of high school students have a substantial amount of stress. “Everyone on Earth experiences some level of anxiety, but if it grows too big, it can disrupt your life,” Dr. Sue Hutton said. Stress has affected everyone at some point in their life whether it is a major life event or a big test, but stress is normal. “Everybody’s under stress at times,” Hutton said.

Instead of being able to deal with the stress and cope with it, the stress mounts up and becomes anxiety.”

— Staff Writer Abri Hausman

The key to dealing with the stress is to not let it grow into a bigger problem than the person can handle. Hutton describes stress mounting up much like a balloon being filled. When you keep adding little bits of air at a time to the balloon it won’t seem like anything is happening, but because none of that air is being let go it will eventually pop. “It’s the breaking point and then it deflates and starts the whole process over,” Hutton said.

Levels of stress go up and down throughout life, almost like spikes on a graph. Most commonly the biggest “spikes” are around high school, the age that one gets married, mid-life crisis, retirement age, and near death. “Normal stress, it comes and it goes,” Hutton said.

Some people have a much harder time handling the stress. Instead of being able to deal with the stress and cope with it, the stress mounts up and becomes anxiety.

Along with tests given by therapists, there are also many online tests to diagnose anxiety. Most people will realize they have anxiety, find help, and over time get better by dealing with it and even preventing more anxiety episodes. “‘So what can I do about it?’ That’s the next step,” Hutton said.

However, there are those unlucky people who when they realize their anxiety it sends them into another anxiety attack. People that have anxiety attacks can feel like they have lost control of their surroundings and their mind except there is no escaping. “And it causes an inability to deal with your daily life events,” Hutton said.

Anxiety attacks occur when the person only focuses on a single situation and starts to produce negative thoughts about the situation creating extreme paranoia. The act of stressing over these future events can cause a physiological response.

Some symptoms can be trouble breathing, chest pains, racing thoughts, and trouble focusing or recalling information. “Each person experiences this response differently, so it’s important to know and understand your own reactions to be able to differentiate stress and anxiety responses from other medical conditions,”  therapist for Life Change Group Amy Jaynes said.

People with mild anxiety may only experience two or three symptoms but others with worse cases can have many. The most common symptom of everyday stress is procrastination. Students will stress about something like a test or a project and become so worried about being rejected or failing the situation that they will not start the event. The downward spiral continues when they have even less time to complete the task.

Jaynes believes that today’s high schoolers have every right to be stressed because nowadays there is a higher standard for students to meet, a higher competition for colleges, and students are encouraged more than ever to attend extracurricular activities and become a more “well rounded” student. With all of that “it’s not surprising that our students are struggling with anxiety and stress,” Jaynes said.

Even though students are under more pressure than ever to excel, the parents continue to downplay and misinterpret students’ stress as laziness or other behavioral problems. This can lead to the students feeling like they have no one to get help from. Jaynes advises otherwise, she asks anyone who has anxiety to find someone the person trusts and to share their experiences.

The students do not get enough sleep because of the overwhelming amount of homework. Sophomore Abbey Sykes* was unable to realize how much stress she was having because of homework and did not take proper precautions. Last year, in the middle of Spanish class, “the extreme amount of stress and low amounts of sleep caused [her] to have a seizure,” Sykes said.

People who experience anxiety have ways to cope with the symptoms, but those who do not, often find the symptoms overwhelming. They can be left in a situation of anguish and feel powerless. “We signed up for the class and we have to accept the consequences,” Jane Foster* said.


*The names of these students were changed in accordance with guidelines from the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act which “generally prohibits the improper disclosure of personally identifiable information derived from education records.”