Sleepless nights, jitters, nausea, and heart palpitations; these are only some of the symptoms that individuals who suffer with anxiety may face. From generalized anxiety disorder to obsessive compulsive disorder and phobias, anxiety is a condition that several people suffer from and may even need treatment for. Throughout the years, especially in this generation, it seems as though more and more people are suffering from the disorder. Anxiety disorders are known to be the most common and prominent mental illnesses, globally affecting 1 in 3 people. There are several reasons as to why anxiety is widespread amongst the group of people known as Generation X. The portrayal of it in the media and the rise of technology are leading reasons.
“Anxiety has always been a problem and people can become anxious about any difficulties or demands in their life.” Dr. Kenneth Mitchell, psychiatrist specializing in anxiety and bipolar disorders at The Lighthouse Arabia says, “However, stresses in modern life have increased due for example to the self-perpetuating provision of technological services such as mobile phone, laptops and computers so that people never have completely free time to relax and unwind and are expected to be available 24/7 even on weekends and vacations”.
Mitchell then explains the results of the portrayal of perfect people with perfect lives in the consumer society, advertising, and social media and says, “it has convinced people that they need to achieve the same, so they become dissatisfied with themselves and their lives and strive in vain to meet unattainable standards.”
In addition to this, the media, including TV series such as the controversial 13 Reasons Why, several movies, and even blogs on Tumblr, portray anxiety and other related disorders such as major depressive disorder without the consequences and effects they may have on their audience in mind. A majority of the viewers and users of these different media are teenagers and young adults who are impressionable to higher corporations such as Hollywood and the Internet.
“As a teenager I used Tumblr a lot,” says 20-year-old Xena Abbasi. “I experienced my first anxiety attack in the ninth grade, but I didn’t really pay attention to it. Instead, I followed a lot of depression and anxiety-related blogs on Tumblr that posted pictures of self-mutilation and other negative forms of coping mechanisms, which I unfortunately ended up resulting to until I was about 17.”
Anxiety and other psychological disorders can have severe impacts on the youth of our generation. At our very own American University in Dubai, the walls of corridors have been plastered in posters raising awareness for the issue at the start of the 2018 spring semester. It is of great importance to do so as anxiety is a common condition, especially experienced by students in schools, universities, and educational institutions since a majority of them are under extreme amounts of pressure, undergoing transitional firsts and behavioral changes and they are at the age in which the disorder is most prominent.
With this being said, it is unfortunate that AUD did in fact lose its student counselor this past year, and they have yet to hire a new one. This makes it difficult for students who do suffer with anxiety and other psychological disorders to deal with their difficulties and find ways to handle the pressure that they are faced with.
However, AUD is in the process of hiring a new counselor. For the time being, students can go to Dr. Nelly Halabi at the health center for any concerns with mental health. “Based on my background experience, and the linked responsibilities I shared with the counselor and students with psychological disorders” she says, “I meet with the people who seek help, trying to comfort and direct them to mental health professionals if needed”.
In this generation it is important to keep in mind that what we see in advertisements, social media, blogs, television series, and movies, are unrealistic depictions of what it is to be an ordinary person. If you are suffering from anxiety, or other psychological disorders, it is advised and essential to seek help from a professional, learn about coping mechanisms, and to not trail on those that are portrayed in the media.
Illustration by Rund Samman