By Dhruti Patel
Senior Taylor Lampe is a busy girl. From being a member of the CHS camerata orchestra to participating in the Greyhound Connections program and being a member of the National Honor Society, Lampe said she often has to work out a schedule for her extracurricular activities. On top of all of the clubs and activities Lampe is a part of, she also has a rigorous academic schedule, as she takes classes such as AP Biology, AP Spanish Literature, Multi-Variable Calculus and AP Government. With so many different aspects of her life to juggle, Lampe said she can sometimes become stressed out over her workload.
“It’s really not that bad,” Lampe said. “I’m just involved with a lot of stuff, so a typical day for me would be from 7:50 (a.m.) at school, and then probably orchestra practice after school. So, I really just get stressed out when I’ve got homework that’s due and I have to stay after school for stuff. (My stress) just depends on the time of the week and what’s going on.”
Lampe, however, isn’t the only American teenager who can occasionally become stressed over school or social activities. According to a report published by WebMd.com in 2008, 28.8 percent of Americans will suffer anxiety in their lifetime, which is the highest level in the world. In addition to the high stress levels from which many Americans suffer, a recent study by the Molecular Psychiatry Journal found that women are twice as susceptible to stress than males.
Mental health counselor Kimble Richardson said this is not surprising. According to Richardson, who works at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis, it’s a highly discussed topic within the psychiatric community that has found various results. The real question, for Richardson, is why this trend occurs and what factors contribute to it. He said it’s not known if there is something different about the chemical make up of brains of males and females or if it is easier for girls to get help and express their emotions.
Lampe said she agrees that women tend to have more stress than men do. Although she is not sure of the specific reason why this occurs, she said she noticed this phenomenon in her own experience as a student.
“I don’t want to make any generalizations, but yeah. Maybe it’s just because (women are) more emotional. I don’t really know what the reason is, but that’s just what I think,” Lampe said.
Richardson also pointed out that genetic factors may also contribute to stress and anxiety. Although geneticists have not identified a specific gene that is linked with anxiety, Richardson said it might eventually be found through the Genome Sequencing Project. For now, however, mental health experts know that if a family member has a problem with stress, a teenager is more susceptible to having those same problems.
Furthermore, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, children learn from their parents how to deal with certain situations. The way parents deal with those situations ultimately affects how their children will deal with them as they become older, so parents will affect both environmental and genetic factors for teenagers.
“We know that if somebody’s mother or father or grandparents or even aunts and uncles have had a problem with depression, a teenager is more likely to have those problems. (It) doesn’t necessarily mean they will, but the likelihood is higher,” he said.
Lampe said she does not think that genetics play into her anxiety, as her parents balance each other out when it comes to stress. She said her dad is more laid back and easy-going, Lampe’s mother can be a little stressed out from time to time.
“My mother and I hold ourselves to a certain level, and when we don’t reach that level or we don’t come close enough, we can get a little frustrated,” she said.
Although many students often think that senior year is more relaxed in comparison to junior year, Lampe said it depends on what classes a student decides to take and how rigorous he or she chooses to be academically.Also, since the economy has been unstable for the last few years, Richardson said earning a college degree is even more important to students now than ever, as jobs are becoming more and more difficult to attain. Without a college degree, there are fewer options to acquire employment, increasing competition for high school and college students.
According to Lampe, she personally decided to choose more rigorous courses and her demanding extra-curricular activities because of how beneficial they are to her and because she truly enjoys them. She said she does not regret taking any of the classes she has taken or participating in any of the clubs she joined before or is currently in, and she is happy in everything she is involved with.
“I actually do like being in harder classes because I enjoy the challenge. That’s mainly why I chose them. I just like the environment, and I don’t regret any of the classes I have taken this year,” Lampe said. “Freshman through junior year, I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to be involved in. There were some things I tried, and I didn’t like them. But right now, I’m really enjoying everything that’s going on.”