The Bane of A Teen’s Existence

Yejin Lee ‘23

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Throughout my whole life, I have heard adults blame the use of social media and technology for teen depression and mental health disorders. It’s always the same thing: “That’s not good for your brain” or, “it’s because you spend so much time on your phone that you’re like this”, or even “back in my day we used to actually go outside and talk to people in real life.” Ok, boomer. Even though social media may take part in mental health issues, it cannot be classified as the leading cause. Personally, social media has never been something that has caused me to be especially sad or depressed; it’s been an outlet where I can express the things I enjoy and get in touch with my friends. If anything, one of the biggest causes of teen mental health disorders can be found in schools. 

 

Living in a town like Basking Ridge, there has always been the idea of academic competition and high expectations floating all around. But when I was a little girl in the first grade, I never thought I would be one of those pathetic teenagers cooped up in her room panicking about the test she would have the next day. I was very wrong. Taking on both honors classes and several clubs, my life has been a jumble and, needless to say, I have spent more than a couple nights staying up late for classes and projects. According to Juliann Garey, a writer for the Child Mind Institute, “multiple studies have shown that the vast majority of teens today are living with borderline to severe sleep deprivation” and when you “ throw in a term paper or heavy exam week and the average can easily drop to 3 or 4 [hours]” [1]. While this may just seem like a problem with the amount of sleep someone gets in a week, it stems to much more than that. Sleep deprivation can cause and raise the risk of several mental health problems. As said by the National Sleep Foundation, the “relationship between sleep and mood is complex, because disrupted sleep can lead to emotional changes, clinical depression or anxiety (as well as other psychiatric conditions), but these conditions can also compound or further disrupt sleep. In fact, altered sleep patterns are a hallmark of many mental health issues.” Having loads of tests, homework, and extracurricular activities comes with the cost of our mental health. The effects of not having sleep are extremely detrimental as they can ruin our mental well-being and cause disorders. 

 

School, albeit being a place for socialization and “fun”, places an enormous amount of stress on students. All around the world students are constantly being pressured to do well in high school and college, and that problem has been increasingly getting worse. Studies from the Education Week have shown that between “2005 and 2017, the proportion of teens 12-17 who reported the symptoms of a major depressive episode within the last year rose from 8.7 percent to 13.2 percent, the data showed. Adults ages 18-25 showed similar trends, while rates remained relatively stable for older generations” [2]. Not only has the problem of teen depression yet to be solved, but it has been getting worse and worse. There is a stigma around talking about mental illnesses and it is because of this that high school and college students often hesitate to seek out help. Many students deal with anxiety issues and depression without even knowing it. According to Everyday Health, “the truth is that severe depression in teens is common. Up to 30 percent of adolescents have at least one episode of it, and 50 to 75 percent of adolescents with anxiety, impulse control, and hyperactivity disorders develop them during the teenage years” [2]. And not only that but, “stress can be a trigger for severe depression in teens and may trigger mental illness in young adults who are vulnerable. The adolescent brain is more sensitive to stress hormones and can suffer damage from stress that lasts into adulthood” [2]

 

School has become one of the biggest stress inducers and causes for mental disorders in teenagers, much more than anything else. We become plagued by the pressure of academics and high expectations almost every day; it’s like an unavoidable nightmare that we pay taxes to go to. Due to the unbelievable push that teens get from school, many of us end up dealing with depression, anxiety, and even worse. Instead of targeting social media and technology we should instead be trying to fix the amount of pressure and anxiety students receive from school.

 

[1] https://childmind.org/article/teenagers-sleep-deprived/

[2] https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2019/03/14/schools-grapple-with-student-depression-as-data.htmlhttps://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/stress-may-trigger-mental-illness-and-depression-in-teens.aspx

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