How Stress Affects Students

Educational Postcard: Stress blocks learning by Ken Whytock is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

“Educational Postcard: ‘Stress blocks learning'” by Ken Whytock is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


The ringing of a morning alarm. A dreaded sound, a blaring wail willing the day to begin. For four years, a high schooler’s daily routine starts with a five AM wake-up call, before a day chock-full of stress and homework and a difficult course load. It seems only reasonable that rates of anxiety and depression skyrocket in teenagers.


Studies from the World Health Organization show that 300 million people worldwide live with depression. Additionally, 1 in 5 teens suffer from some form of anxiety. The environment that students experience on a daily basis cultivates many stressors that some do not know how to cope with. Although mental illnesses increase in prevalence and severity with treatment relatively easily accessible, 60 percent of teens who suffer from either depression or anxiety do not seek help or medication. The stigma surrounding mental illness, though it appears to have improved in recent years, still prevents many people from receiving the assistance they need. The idea that mental illness does not qualify as a “real” illness has caused many to convince themselves that their problems do not need or deserve treatment.


The pressure of perfection causes anxiety and depression in many teens. The pressure to appear flawless on social media, get perfect grades, be the golden child for your parents weighs on students. Specifically in the school environment the pressure to perform flawlessly and better that one’s peers can feel particularly intense.  Students dedicate so much of their time trying to look like the perfect student, spending hours doing extra credit and curriculars in order to appeal to universities. Feeling like they are holding the weight of the world on their shoulders, it makes sense that without healthy coping mechanisms anxiety and depression develops.


In addition to a high-stress environment, some kids have a genetic disposition to anxiety and depression. Since theses conditions are genetic, students whose parents suffer from either anxiety or depression have a higher risk of developing it themselves. Likewise, parental over-involvement in anxiety-inducing situations can escalate said situation and cause further problems. A sense of dependence fostered by parents playing superhero into their children’s adulthood leads to anxiety and depression.


In our society traditional gender roles still prevail. People often expect men to play the role of strong protectors who don’t show emotion. Due to this, depression develops more in men, of all ages, but especially young boys. The Male Gender Role Conflict caused by an image of toxic masculinity being pushed on men since they were kids results in many not knowing how to properly handle and cope with their emotions and problems.


Over the past 20 years the prevalence of anxiety and depression has increased exponentially. With more and more challenges every day it can feel difficult to stay afloat.

If you or someone you know needs help here are some numbers you can call.

Anxiety Hotline:


Depression Hotline:


Suicide Prevention: