The Truth Behind Anxiety

Jenna Thomas, Reporter

His mouth is dry, and his knees are weak; however, he doesn’t know if it’s nervousness or anxiety.

Something almost all students can relate to getting nervous about a test, but the term anxiety can come in hand when that nervousness is enhanced and is starting to get in the way of someone’s normal activities.  

Dana Bortel, a licensed social worker, poses for a photo. Bortel has specialized in working with adolescents and young adults for 24 years. (Broadcaster/Jenna Thomas)
Dana Bortel, a licensed social worker, poses for a photo. Bortel has specialized in working with adolescents and young adults for 24 years. (Broadcaster/Jenna Thomas)

According to Linda Krayeski, Hershey High School emotional support teacher, nervousness is a state of being worried or afraid of what might happen. Anxiety is also a feeling of worry or unease, but it is usually long-term and can interfere with someone’s daily life.

A good way to get rid of a fear is to try to perform that fear.

Krayeski said, “Anxiety is more pervasive. A person can be nervous over a test, but anxiety is more of a strong feeling.”

Additionally, anxiety usually has something to do with an unexpected outcome. For example, when people are diagnosed with anxiety disorders they experience insomnia, headaches, twitching, heart palpitations, and many more symptoms. Severe symptoms can lead to Generalized Anxiety Disorder or anxiety attacks, according to Krayeski.

Dana Bortel, a licensed social worker who specializes with adolescents and young adults, said that someone can be nervous about a test or upcoming event, but it becomes anxiety when it is more of a consistent feeling of nervousness.

A common type of anxiety is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Bortel said that GAD is a psychological disorder characterized by excessive or disproportionate anxiety. GAD can affect people of all ages and can be passed down generations. She said often times, it can be quite hard to determine if someone has GAD or if they are just nervous because of a test.  

Anxiety can get in the way of what someone would do on a daily basis.  People who have anxiety will usually try to avoid certain places or situations for fear that they will feel anxious again.

Lizzie Jaskulski, a Freshman at HHS who has been dealing with anxiety said, “well usually if you get anxiety then it takes over your body and you end up really not focusing on much other than it… That’s only if it gets bad I guess, so it causes your life to fall on top of itself and just you feel down a lot more and stuff”

Bortel said depression is commonly linked to anxiety. This feeling of hopelessness makes anxious people angry because it gets in the way of their everyday life. However, anxiety is not all bad, though.

“Anxiety is usually defined as feelings of distress or unease most times due to an impending event or situation. A little bit of anxiety or nervousness is helpful in most situations,” said Bortel.

According to Bortel, anxiety is not as bad as people portray it to be. Anxiety can help with certain things in daily life such as homework. For example, someone who is worried about their grades or how they perform in school may be more conscientious about completing their homework.

Jaskulski said that if someone is having an anxiety attack and wants to be left alone, they should be left alone. Jaskulski finds anxiety to be most common for her if she is in a crowded room where people are yelling, if multiple people are trying to get her attention at once, or if she is put in the middle of a feud between friends.

“This is why it is important to begin treatment for anxiety early on,” Bortel said.

Ellen Ott, HHS guidance counselor, gave some tips on how to become more calm to help prevent anxiety attacks. Breathing in for three seconds and releasing for six seconds will help your heart rate get slower so you become more calm.

Anxiety is not something that can always be alleviated by yourself. Bortel says severe anxiety may require Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This type of therapy teaches people to not let negative thoughts take over one’s life and helps them let positive thoughts in. CBT is proven to decrease anxiety in many people.

“Talking to therapists who can provide coping skills and anxiety management techniques is extremely helpful.” said Bortel,  “Anxiety does not have to take over one’s life.”

Anyone whose anxiety is starting to rule their lives can visit the Hershey Counseling Center website for their e-mail, phone number of their main desk, and address to set up an appointment face to face if desired.