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Anxiety | Dr. William Winter is a child and adolescent psychiatrist.
Will Winter, MD, FAAP
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When looking up the definition of "anxiety", words that come up are "unease", "anticipated ill", "fearful", "apprehension", "doubt" and "self-doubt." 

All of these terms have a future component to them.  "Doubt"- lack of trust in the future and "self-doubt"- lack of trust in one's self, are connected.

The idea- the assumption- is that the near future could (or will) be very bad, and you probably will not be able to change it.  The more intense the sense of certainty that the future will be very bad, the greater the anxiety will be.   The more one feels helpless to change the situation, the greater the anxiety experienced.  Anxiety is rooted in feelings of fear and helplessness.

Often, it's not about the anxiety, but about how you handle it that makes the difference.
Here's an example of how anxiety can be adaptive in the school setting:

Motivation to study
If you have a test to study for, anxiety may motivate you to start studying.  It may motivate you to study more than if you weren't afraid at all. And, as you study, your anxiety decreases. As you study, your faith in yourself, your belief that you will pass or get the grade increases.

An example of how anxiety can be maladaptive in the same setting:

Procrastination
If the anxiety is too great, you may put off studying. And, the more you procrastinate, the harder it will be to actually start to study- and the less time you have to study.  Procrastination is avoidance of responsibility.  It is the out of sight, out of mind illusion.  It is the equivalent of walking into a room, covering your eyes and saying, "You can't see me"

Procrastination doesn't work. Taken to its end point, procrastination means that no studying at all will get done and the test will be failed.

Other examples of anxiety in the school setting

Test taking anxiety
Even if you did study for the test, if your faith in yourself is too low- if you are really scared at the moment- when handed the test, your mind may go blank.  Test taking anxiety can be understood as a type of performance anxiety.

Anxiety can manifest in many different and unpleasant ways.  Following is one that, statistically speaking, more people are afraid of than are afraid of death:

Fear of Public Speaking (performance anxiety)
The teacher has each student present the poem they were assigned to write in front of the class.   Suddenly, in front of everybody your voice starts to waiver and you can't catch your breath. 

Performance anxiety can even mean that you are afraid to raise your hand in class for fear of having to answer a question in class.  The underlying fear may be of "looking stupid" in front of "everybody".  Obviously, this is misplaced fear, the root of which is low self-confidence.  After all, if you felt comfortable with yourself in this area, you wouldn't worry about how others might perceive you.

Not raising your hand in class may then hurt you because, often, class participation is factored into your final grade.

These are just some examples of how anxiety can manifest itself.  Some of the more common anxiety disorders are included in the discussion that follows.