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Anxiety of High School Students Essay

1.1Introduction

Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave, and they can manifest real physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life. People often experience a general state of worry or fear before confronting something challenging such as a test, examination, recital, or interview. These feelings are easily justified and considered normal. Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to sleep or otherwise function. Anxiety occurs when a reaction is out of proportion with what might be normally expected in a situation. Anxiety disorders can be classified into several more specific types.

The most common are briefly described below. •Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic disorder characterized by excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worry about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations. GAD sufferers often feel afraid and worry about health, money, family, work, or school, but they have trouble both identifying the specific fear and controlling the worries. Their fear is usually unrealistic or out of proportion with what may be expected in their situation. Sufferers expect failure and disaster to the point that it interferes with daily functions like work, school, social activities, and relationships. •Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety characterized by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that leads to shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing.

Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and peak after 10 minutes, but they then may last for hours. Panic disorders usually occur after frightening experiences or prolonged stress, but they can be spontaneous as well. A panic attack may lead an individual to be acutely aware of any change in normal body function, interpreting it as a life threatening illness – hypervigiliance followed by hypochondriasis. In addition, panic attacks lead a sufferer to expect future attacks, which may cause drastic behavioral changes in order to avoid these attacks. •A Phobia is an irrational fear and avoidance of an object or situation. Phobias are different from generalized anxiety disorders because a phobia has a fear response identified with a specific cause. The fear may be acknowledged as irrational or unnecessary, but the person is still unable to control the anxiety that results. Stimuli for phobia may be as varied as situations, animals, or everyday objects.

For example, agoraphobia occurs when one avoids a place or situation to avoid an anxiety or panic attack. Agoraphobics will situate themselves so that escape will not be difficult or embarrassing, and they will change their behavior to reduce anxiety about being able to escape. •Social Anxiety Disorder is a type of social phobia characterized by a fear of being negatively judged by others or a fear of public embarrassment due to impulsive actions. This includes feelings such as stage fright, a fear of intimacy, and a fear of humiliation. This disorder can cause people to avoid public situations and human contact to the point that normal life is rendered impossible.

•Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by thoughts or actions that are repetitive, distressing, and intrusive. OCD suffers usually know that their compulsions are unreasonable or irrational, but they serve to alleviate their anxiety. Often, the logic of someone with OCD will appear superstitious, such as an insistence in walking in a certain pattern. OCD sufferers may obsessively clean personal items or hands or constantly check locks, stoves, or light switches.

•Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is anxiety that results from previous trauma such as military combat, rape, hostage situations, or a serious accident. PTSD often leads to flashbacks and behavioral changes in order to avoid certain stimuli. •Separation Anxiety Disorder is characterized by high levels of anxiety when separated from a person or place that provides feelings of security or safety. Sometimes separation results in panic, and it is considered a disorder when the response is excessive or inappropriate.

1.2 Background of the Study

Anxiety is an unpleasant emotion experienced as dread, scare, alarm, fright, trepidation, worry, and uneasiness, which triggers mechanism for self-regulation strategies that facilitate performance (Schultz and Davis, 2000). Minimal amount of anxiety can mobilize human beings to respond rapidly and efficiently, but excessive amount of anxiety may foster poor response and sometimes inhibit response (Simpson et al., 1995). The quantity of anxiety experienced by the learner and the negative effects of it on their academic achievement are one of the major reasons for educators to be concerned about (Price 1991, and Clement 1997).

Anxiety is a common symptom found in different population especially among students. Researchers have focused on the role of anxiety in their attempt to understand these difficulties. Anxiety difficulties in certain students may be related to motivational orientation and the lack of effective study skills and test-taking skills. These students may not utilize cognitive, metacognitive, and self-regulated learning strategies effectively. Therefore, for these students, anxiety becomes an issue during course instructions and academic performance suffers.

Educators are perceived to have enormous task and responsibility in helping the students reach their career goals. They play a very important role in making the learners realize their full potentials by helping them overcome the various obstacles they encounter in the process. The experience of anxiety seems to be inescapable in the phenomenological-existential world of these learners. Hence, an imperative need is felt by the researchers to further investigate this problem about anxiety.

The present study is relegated to the high school students in a public Secondary Education Institution in Manila. The respondents chosen for the study were from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines Laboratory High School. Curriculum on this institution imposes a student to strive for academic excellence because of high standards and policies for grades. The schedule for these students is very demanding and requires attendance in class, laboratory work, six days a week along with daily homework. Frequent testing of students is necessary throughout the program for evaluation of progress in mastering content. Students verbalize and exhibit a great deal of anxiety regarding examinations, practicum, projects and other requirements.

This study on the anxiety of high school students of Polytechnic University of the Philippines Laboratory High School is conducted to provide baseline data for the guidance and counseling department to plan and map relevant intervention programs to address this specific concern of the recipient students. The findings gathered by this study can be of great help to the students, educators, parents, and the school administrators of the institution in arriving at solutions to the problem of anxiety among learners.

1.3 Theoretical Framework

This study is anchored on the theory of Sigmund Freud (Freud, as cited by Fiest & Fiest, 7th Edition). He emphasized that anxiety is a felt, affective, unpleasant state accompanied by a physical sensation that warns the person against impending danger. The unpleasantness is often vague and hard to pinpoint but the anxiety itself is always felt. In one point of hid theory, he indicated that anxiety is a signal from the ego about a real (existing) or potential danger (Theories of Anxiety, Strongman, 1995). This study is also concerned o how anxiety relate to physical state of the students. In connection with this, researchers shall explore the physiological and neurological theories of anxiety. They account for anxiety as involving particular parts of The Central Nervous System, with addition of general arousal and their overt effect on the body, like perspiration and fast heart beat. According to the biological theory, the GABA system is responsible for the motivation of fear and anxiety.

GABA is known as Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid, it is a naturally occurring transmitter inhibitor. It is a substance in the body which helps us to maintain an optimal flow of stimulation or information thereby reducing the flow of neural transmission. There are GABA receptor sites which the GABA will bind and produce the effects mentioned previously. The ability to bind is not fixed, and is dependent on the presence of benzodiapines. This benzodiapines are anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium, Librium, and Alprazolam, which help regulate neural transmissions.

The body naturally produces this chemical, but it has not yet been isolated. When the benzodiapines bind to the sites, it increases the ability of GABA to bind to its own receptor sites (Tallman et al., 1980). The GABA receptors then trigger the opening of Chloride channels which leads to a decrease in the firing rate of critical neurons in many parts of the Central Nervous System. Those who experience more anxiety than others (high level of anxiety), fail to produce or release benzodiapines which are necessary for the amount of GABA needed to regulate neural transmission.

This study wants to determine the level of state anxiety, the level of trait anxiety and the student’s perception of situational threat. State anxiety, like kinetic energy, refers to palpable reaction or process taking place at given time and level of intensity (Batoc, 2011). Its intensity is expected to be in high in circumstances perceived as a threatening and low in non-stressful situations. While trait anxiety, like potential energy, refers to individual differences in reactions (Batoc, 2011). It implies differences between people in the disposition to respond to stressful situations with varying amounts of state anxiety (Spielberg, 1982).

The State-Trait Anxiety Theory which was developed by Spielberg gives the foundation for identifying the different psychological construct properties of state anxiety and trait anxiety, and for categorizing the different variables in studying anxiety. He postulated the State and Trait Anxiety are analogous in certain respect to kinetic and potential energy (Spielberg. 1985). While in Cognitive Perspective, loss of control and inability to make a coping response are two main focuses.

Loss of control refers to a situation when there are unpredictable or uncontrollable events in one’s life which lead to anxiety and/or depression. As a result, feelings of helplessness develop. The unpredictability which may be associated with a task may cause anxiety (Seligman, 1975). The inability or perceived inability to make an adaptive response to a threatening event or the fact or perception that no such response is available will lead to feelings of anxiety. Since anxiety is very ambiguous, it is the key which prevents the elaboration of clear action patterns to handle the situation effectively (Lazarus, 1991).


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