The word anxiety has become massively popular within recent decades and has even more recently been used to talk about mental health struggles. But did you know that anxiety originated as a survival necessity? Furthermore, it’s the reason that you are here and alive!
Anxiety as a Survival Mechanism
Anxiety told our ancestors to run when they were being chased by a lion or freeze when being hunted by a bear. Additionally, anxiety gives us to the natural survival instincts that keep us safe.
The Anxiety Evolution
Nevertheless, how has anxiety gone from helping us act in stressful situations to a debilitating mental illness?
Anxiety Without the Presence of a Threat
Don’t get me wrong, we still have those natural survival instincts that will kick in when needed. However, what makes anxiety a mental illness is when we feel those same fight, flight, or freeze responses without the presence of an actual threat to one’s safety.
The Feeling Behind the Anxiety
Moreover, maybe you freeze at the sight of a timed math test or feel your heart racing as you get up to make a presentation in class and you want to run. It could be as bad as waking up to go to school and feeling symptoms of being sick. However, its really the thought of interacting with your peers that causes you to want to retreat.
Anxiety Becomes Psychological
Nevertheless, these things are challenging and the anxiety associated with them is completely valid, there is no actual threat of danger in doing them in most cases. Thus, when anxiety goes from biological to psychological.
Types of Anxiety
Anxiety as a mental health disorder is characterized by excessive worry about non-life-threatening stimuli to a degree that impacts daily functioning and there are many different types of anxiety.
Types of anxiety include (simply put):
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder – excessive worry about a wide range of things
- Social Anxiety Disorder– excessive worry about judgment and criticism
- Specific Phobia – excessive worry about specific stimuli (i.e. spiders, heights, water, needles, tight spaces, etc.)
- Panic Disorder – excessive worry that leads to intense physical reactions like heart pounding, sweating, trembling, and hyperventilating. Those with Panic Disorder often develop anxiety around experiencing these reactions.
The Constant Fear of Situations, Feelings, and Stimuli
Meanwhile many of these do seem like they could pose a threat (spiders can be dangerous!), the likelihood that one of these will physically harm you is low. Yet, those with these anxieties and phobias are constantly concerned about the presence of these situations, feelings, and stimuli. Furthermore, this is where these diagnoses come in.
It’s Different for LGBT Teens
Every single person on this planet experiences anxiety to some degree and at times more severely depending on circumstances. However, not all anxiety requires a diagnosis. As a therapist who works with teens regularly, I try to normalize the existence of anxiety as much as possible for them.
Anxiety for LGBTQ Youth is Different
Where anxiety for LGBT teens differs from that of straight-identifying teens is that queer teens face a potential for physical harm. Especially in our world today, where laws are constantly being brought to the table with the intent to make this community disappear and not have rights.
The Constant Fear of Potential Threats
Anxiety for LGBT teens and individuals is more than just excessive worry. There is fear of potential threats that have a higher likelihood of being present.
The Threat Isn’t New
Violence, abuse, bullying, microaggressions, attacks, and discrimination are threats to the safety of LGBT individuals for a long time. It is not new!
The timeline of LGBT violence and discrimination dates back centuries:
LGBT people are banned from entering the U.S. and considered to be “psychopathically inferior.”
The Stonewall Riots occurred in New York City after a police raid of the Stonewall bar that sparked a new phase in the LGBT liberation movement. This movement was sparked by Sylvia Rivera, a Peurto Rican drag queen and transgender activist.
“Gender Identity Disorder” is added to the list of mental illnesses in the DSM and currently remains.
Matthew Shepard is beaten and left tied to a fence for 18 hours.
Angie Zapata, a transwoman, is beaten to death in Colorado by Allen Andrade. This was the first act of violence against a transgender person to be declared a hate crime.
These Are Only a Few Examples of Violence and Discrimination Against LGBTQ Youth
These only highlight a few instances of violence and hate against LGBT individuals, but they definitely do not encapsulate everything that has happened and continues to happen.
You can read more of this timeline HERE.
What’s Happening Now
What does all of this history have to do with anything? Things are a lot better now, right?!
In ways things have gotten better, but in other ways our society remains stuck or even in a state of regression when it comes to LGTB rights.
The Impact on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Youth is Real
A 2021 National Survey conducted by the Trevor Project, found that 75% of LGBT youth had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime. 67% of Black LGBT youth and 60% of Asian/Pacific Islander LGBT youth reported discrimination in the past year. 94% of LGBT youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health.
You can read more state from the National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2021.
States Across the Country Are Passing Laws That Negatively Impact LGBTQ Youth
These numbers are from 2 years ago and since then numerous states across the U.S. are trying to pass bills to prevent transgender kids from having access to affirming medical care, banning books with LGBTQ content from libraries, and passing Don’t Say Gay bills.
Sadly my state, Louisiana, is one of them.
LGBT Youth Face Real Danger!
All of this means that LGBT youth need your love and support more than ever!
Now is not a time to protect them from danger by forcing them to hide their identity. However, it is time to stand with them. Support is not hiding your teens. It is getting out there and standing up for what is right! It’s attending library town meetings and protesting the terrible laws that are trying to be enforced.
Validating Your Child’s Struggles with Anxiety
Most importantly support is validating your child’s struggles with anxiety because they are faced with an actual threat to safety. At Creative Wellness and Counseling we take an affirming stance on LGBTQ care and offer a safe, judgment-free space for kids to address these struggles.
Begin Therapy for Teens in Metairie, LA Today!
If your teen is struggling with their mental health and it’s impacting their ability to fully live and enjoy life, Therapy for Teens at Creative Counseling and Wellness is here to help. As a Therapist, I have both personal and professional experience with these issues and am prepared to walk this journey of self-discovery with your teen. Follow the steps below to get started. Through ownership, balance, and practice, your teen can own the stage and the stage called life!
- Reach out to me via my convenient online contact form.
- Get to know more about me and my story here.
- Begin the journey to self-discovery and healing
Other Mental Health Services Offered at Creative Counseling and Wellness
At my practice, I specialize in working with teens and their families. I work with a wide variety of individuals such as: LGBTQ+ Teens, Teens with Anxiety, Theater Teens, Creative/Artistic Teens, Teens Questioning Gender Identity, High Achieving Teens, Teens with Social Anxiety, and Teens Struggling with Perfectionism. Additionally, I also provide support with Group Therapy for Teens. My own life and experience give me a unique perspective that lends itself to working with teens especially. Reach out today!