All-school assembly shows documentary to bring awareness to anxiety

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All-school assembly shows documentary to bring awareness to anxiety

The student body and faculty gather in the Athletic Center to watch the documentary

The student body and faculty gather in the Athletic Center to watch the documentary "Angst" on Monday.

Kathy Fang

The student body and faculty gather in the Athletic Center to watch the documentary "Angst" on Monday.

Kathy Fang

Kathy Fang

The student body and faculty gather in the Athletic Center to watch the documentary "Angst" on Monday.

by Nicole Tian, Reporter

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“Angst,” a documentary about anxiety and bringing awareness to these conditions, at the all-school meeting today. It involved interviews with several teenagers, children, parents, and healthcare experts from around the United States who discussed symptoms of depression.

The documentary began with the students talking about personally stressful situations, some being driving, trying to maintain high grades, or the temptation to obsess over information in social media. It emphasized that anxiety affects all types of people and that everyone who feels stressed has to deal with some type of anxiety, which can manifest itself in different ways, such as germaphobia or facial tics. Even though it may seem that anxiety is becoming more common, one of the therapists noted that one of the reasons this term surfaces more is because people are becoming increasingly involved in bringing these issues to light.

The documentary then moved on to discuss the symptoms related to anxiety disorders, which include paralyzing fear of a specific scenario. One student described an instance when he walked in late to a class and was faced with uncomfortably trying to find a spot, which eventually led to his leaving school and walking home that day. The teenagers then discussed times when their anxiety led to a panic attack, defined as “a sudden feeling of acute anxiety.”

Not only does extreme stress affect the mind, but it also manifests itself through increased heart rate, sweating or even paralysis. This physical reaction is linked to the amygdala, a part of the limbic system which triggers the “fight or flight” response, a survival mechanism that has been honed over time to force the brain to prioritize the threat network over the frontal lobe, effectively preventing the frontal lobe to think through a situation logically. One way that many of the subjects tried to cope with this loss of control was to avoid what scared them, such as refusing to go to school or baseball practice. In this case, the documentary advised students to divert their attention for a few minutes by listening to music or taking a walk before returning to the situation, and emphasized that escape is not a proper coping mechanism.

Since anxiety usually stems from a core fear, such as abandonment, failure, or judgement, experts advocated exposure therapy, a technique to battle anxiety by doing more of what patients find the most terrifying. The last section of the film encouraged parents and friends of someone who is struggling with anxiety to listen to his or her concerns and take the time to understand and ask questions about their feelings rather than to rush to judgement. For more information, students can reach out to a healthcare professional or school counselors.