Comprehending Suffering

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, 18 percent of all teenagers in the United States have been diagnosed with some form of anxiety. What’s more staggering is that this statistic can be much higher, since it’s believed that only 37% of teenagers and young adults who suffer from anxiety actually seek treatment.

Anxiety, like many mental health disorders, doesn’t discriminate. It can take many forms and can affect any race or gender; and even though the number of anxiety cases continue to rise year over year, there has never been as much attention given to this disorder as other mental health issues in public conversation. I happen to be one of these individuals suffering from anxiety, as I was diagnosed during my junior year of high school. Even though I was able to receive help and treatment throughout my high school and college career, I had trouble communicating with others on how to deal with my anxiety simply because they had no idea how it affected me in the first place. In order to fix this issue and bring awareness to this growing mental disorder, filmmaker Matt Skerritt directed “Angst,” a 2017 film featured at this year’s Kartemquin film series at Adrian College.

In his opening remarks, Adrian College President Jeffrey Docking said he wanted to show “Angst” in order to bring to light the inner struggles that are becoming more common for teens and young adults. The film follows the stories of teenagers from around the country dealing with different forms of anxiety. They talk about how it affects them, their relationships, their families, and how they each plan on moving forward for the rest of their lives. In addition to providing heartfelt teenager testimonies, psychologists explain why anxiety occurs and how to help those that might be suffering.

Overall, the film does an excellent job portraying the different forms of anxiety and how it affects those who suffer from it, but the key takeaway from “Angst” might not be the teen testimonials but rather how important it is for individuals to help someone they know is dealing with anxiety. The film repeatedly signifies the importance of talking to others in order for anxiety sufferers to process their thoughts and think rationally through overwhelming situations, and without such support, those with anxiety may believe their lives are simply too much to bear. The teenagers “Angst” interviews frequently cite the time they had to explain to their parents, who couldn’t quite comprehend how anxiety affected their children, how they felt and why they were feeling that way, hammering home the notion that not comprehending what someone else is going through can often be the most hurtful to those who suffer. I couldn’t count how many times I became frustrated with others when talking about my anxiety simply because they didn’t understand what it did to me.

The entire goal of “Angst” is to try and shorten this gap of understanding. Those who talk with anxiety sufferers are important in identifying ways anxiety can be managed.  If you know someone who is suffering from anxiety, but don’t know how to help, watching “Angst” can be a good start to help you understand what that person is going through and what they’re looking from you in order to make a difference. If you’re not sure  whether someone you know suffers from anxiety, or if you are suffering yourself, visit for resources on how to help and move forward.

“Angst” repeatedly reminds us that anxiety is treatable in a variety of ways, but the best way to move forward and start the healing process is to talk to someone who understands. To those that suffer from anxiety, we’re listening, and we’re here to help.

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