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Impact Of The Social Influences On Anxiety Disorders

1. Introduction

Anxiety is a critical mental medical condition that gives rise to feelings of uneasiness, dread and fear (Rodebaugh et al., 2018). Anxiety can increase the heartbeat as well as make individuals restless. Generally, teenagers take huge stress to balance their educational and personal lives. Anxiety can increase the level of stress (Leigh and Clark, 2018). Throughout the years with an increase in social and careerist competition, the amount of anxiety among teenagers has increased. Other than family history, negative experiences, living in problematic environments, deprivation from society, peer pressure, lack of social communication skills are some of the common causes of anxiety among teenagers (Canuto et al., 2018).

Figure 1: Rate of teenagers feeling down or having depression in the UK in 2009-2021

Figure 1: Rate of teenagers feeling down or having depression in the UK in 2009-2021

(Source: Statista, 2021)

From the above graph, it can be said that throughout the years the number of UK based teenagers having mental disorders or depression has increased. The recent data shows that 41% of the UK based teenagers are suffering from depression which is more than 15% of the rate of 2010 (Statista, 2021). As indicated by Horn and Wuyek (2010), prolonged anxiety is one of the prominent causes of clinical depression. Therefore, assessing the causes of increased anxiety among teenagers is important.

Significance

From the previous statistical data presented in the background part, it can be said that presently 41% of British teenagers have depression or mental illness related symptoms (Statista, 2021). Teenagers define the future of a country; therefore, protecting their mental health is important. Anxiety is one of the causes of the deteriorating mental health of teenagers. From school to adjacent societies, teenagers within 13-19 often face rejection, humiliation, bullying and teasing (Foster et al. 2017). All of these are social influences that increase anxiety among teenagers. Investigating the impacts of the social factors on anxiety disorders is the main issue of research here. 

A survey was conducted by the mental Health Foundation of the UK among teenagers 13-19. It has been observed that 27% of the UK based teenagers feel anxious or nervous while being engaged with any activity (Mental Health Foundation, 2021). The social state of the families majorly depends on the economic standard of the families. Due to the discrimination of the economic standards, the majority of the UK based teenagers are under huge social pressure (Horowitz and Graf, 2019). This ultimately gives rise to anxiety among teenagers. As the instances of teenager anxiety enhanced by social influences are being increased in society it is an important research topic. The research is going to shed light on the social factors that cause anxiety among teenagers. As researching a large number of teenagers may be difficult, this research is going to focus on the anxiety and mental health problems UK based teenagers.

Research Problem

From the understanding of the causes of the increased amount of social anxiety among UK based teenagers, it can be said that prevalence of the social harassment, bullying are the causes of increased anxiety levels of teenagers. As per the newspaper report, 53% of the young people of the UK have been subjected to social bullying and harassment (The Guardian, 2018). There are two main causes of anxiety. Therefore, assessing the impacts of social influences on the social anxiety of the teenagers of the UK is the main problem of the research.

2. Research aim and objectives

Research aim

The proposed research aims to assess the impacts of the social influences on anxiety disorders prevalent among teenagers.

Research objectives

  • To find out the basic causes of anxiety among the teenagers
  • To investigate the social influences that cause anxiety among the teenagers of the UK
  • To find out the ways of normalizing social influences to reduce the anxiety level of UK based teenagers.

Research questions

Primary research question

1. What is the social influence on anxiety disorders within teenagers?

Secondary research questions

2. What are the basic causes of anxiety among teenagers?

3. How do the social influences contribute to the increasing anxiety of UK based teenagers?

4. What are the specific impacts of social influences on the increasing anxiety levels of UK based teenagers?

3. Literature review

The basic concept of anxiety caused by social influences

In general, it can be said that the natural response of the body to tackle stress is called anxiety. Before trying anything new, naturally maximum people feel anxious and it’s normal to a certain level. As indicated by Denizet-Lewis (2017), it can be said that anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders existing in the US.  The researchers have clarified that due to the presence of a certain amount of anxiety among all, it is sometimes overlooked as a medical condition (Denizet-Lewis, 2017). The anxiety that is caused by social influences is generally termed a social anxiety disorder. As indicated by Buzzell et al., (2017), it can be said that the fear or anxiousness of being judged or watched by others is called social anxiety. On average 1 out of 3 teenagers within the age range of 13-18 are affected by a social anxiety disorder or acute clinical anxiety. Maes et al. (2019), have indicated that some of the causes of acute social anxiety are common and the factors include; social communication phobia, fear of rejection, fear of being judged or evaluated by others, social avoidance, social distress, social inhibition, anxiety in interacting with others. Other than these factors, humiliation, bullying, teasing and rejection are some of other causes that also increase anxiety level among the teenagers (Wu et al., 2021). 

Impact of social influences on teenage anxiety

In the previous point, the causes of anxiety among the teenagers have been identified. Wu et al. (2021) have said that bullying is one of the causes of social anxiety among teenagers. This on the other hand is related to the peer relationship. If the family environment of the teenagers is not good then they lack self-confidence which eventually makes them inferior and easy to be bullied by others (Dantchev et al., 2019).

Figure 1: The cycle of anxiety development among the teenagers

Figure 1: The cycle of anxiety development among the teenagers

(Source: Dantchev et al., 2019)

The above figure represents the cycle of anxiety among teenagers. BV represents bullying victimization and SA is social anxiety. The teenagers with high self-esteem are estimated to be less affected by bullying victimization (Barcaccia et al., 2018). Mental maturity of humans goes with increasing age. Dealing with rejection is something that only the people with high cognitive understanding can do well. Teenagers are mentally vulnerable and they have less social life experience. Therefore, they easily get hurt by social rejections and the fear of being rejected may make them conscious as well (Odgers and Jensen, 2020). Teenagers generally love to get appreciated and they fear their peers in this context.  As indicated by Calancie et al. (2017), the adolescent age period of the individuals within 13-19 years of age range are highly vulnerable to mental fluctuations. In the mentioned article, the researchers have indicated that teenagers have the fear of being judged by online peers. Thus, they are always anxious about the social interactions and they withdraw themselves from socializing with others (Young et al., 2019). Teenagers with anxiety are so fearful that in difficult situations they get no control over their emotions.

Data Analysis and Findings

Humiliation is a specific kind of unpleasant emotion that gives rise to the feeling that social statue of an individual has been decreased or the public image of the individual has been damaged. Teenagers are vulnerable in nature and public humiliation can instantly ruin their self-esteem (Alimohammadi and Samani, 2019). Studies have observed that feelings or incidents of humiliation can lead to serious mental problems among the teenage people. As already indicated in the previous parts, some sorts of anxiety and depression are common among the individuals who have been subjected to any kind of humiliation. However the intensity of humiliation decides the impacts on the self-esteem of the teenagers. It has been observed that if the parents use the mode of humiliation for punishing the teenagers then their self-esteem gets significantly lowered (Yun et al. 2019).   

Ways anxiety disorders can adversely impact teenage lives

The impacts of clinical anxiety differ from person to person. On an overall the anxiety symptoms include feelings, worries, excessive fear, being extremely vigilant, and tendency of worrying excessively. Generally anxiety increases the mental stress level of teenagers (Wozney et al., 2018). In case of acute anxiety, even if the actual threat is not present, teenagers feel nervous, restless and extremely stressed.  Other than the mental impacts, prolonged anxiety also has physical impacts as well. Occasional headaches, fatigue, pain in back and limbs, muscle cramps, tension, stomach-aches and other discomforts associated with pubertal changes are some of the physical impacts of anxiety that teenagers experience (Locsin and Salvador, 2021). Other than these impacts, sudden panic attacks, phobias are some of the adverse impacts of anxiety caused by social factors on teenagers (Perrotta, 2019).

4. Study/ project design

Research Philosophy

Research philosophy is the guiding force or the way of collecting data for conducting data analysis of a dissertation. Positivism and interpretivism are the two philosophies that are generally followed to conduct research. The prediction power of interpretivism is weak (Ryan, 2018). However, in order to include factual data in the research and involving quantitative data in the research process, positivism is the best philosophy (Alharahsheh and Pius, 2020).

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This research will focus on investigating the impacts of the social influences on teenage anxiety. As the researcher is just an audience and is not going to include own inputs in the research, interpretivism cannot be followed here. Positivism will be helpful in collecting current data and using the data for gaining factual answers of the research questions. Due to these reasons, the proposed research will follow positivism philosophy.

Research approach

Research approach is a procedure or plan that consists of detailed methods of interpretation, analysis and collection of research data (Woiceshyn and Daellenbach, 2018). The choice of research approach is entirely based on the nature of research. Generally, inductive and deductive approaches are the two research approaches that are followed in the research process. Inductive research philosophy generally starts with direct observations and the research studies that follow inductive approaches generally develop new theories (Ryder, 2018). In contrast, the deductive approach plans the whole research on the basis of the existing theories (Woiceshyn and Daellenbach, 2018). Moreover the research that needs to be completed within a certain period time can only be conducted following the deductive research approach.

A number of previous studies are already available on the possible causes of anxiety and the impacts of social influences on teenage anxiety. Moreover the proposed research does not deal with the formation of new theories. Due to this reason deductive research approaches will be followed here.

Research design

Research design chalks out the framework following which the techniques and methods of detailed research are chosen. Generally, three types of research designs are adopted by the researchers which include exploratory, explanatory and descriptive research designs. In exploratory research, the research problem that is not clearly defined or about which less data are available is done (Orçan, 2018). Explanatory research on the other hand, stresses on the detailed explanation of the research factors and not trying to achieve the research aim (Bowen et al., 2017). Therefore, both of these designs will not be chosen for the proposed research.

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Descriptive research helps in casting light on current problems and the issues through the data collection process (Power et al., 2018). Both the conduction of the quantitative and qualitative research studies can be done following the descriptive design. In order to investigate the impacts of social influences on teenage anxiety both quantitative and qualitative research methods have to be applied. Therefore, Descriptive design will be the best suited design for the proposed research. 

Research method

Research method is the set of techniques, processes and strategies of data collection that help in better understanding of the research topic. Qualitative data deals with the non-numerical data which helps in understanding the research concept effectively (Smith and McGannon, 2018). On the other hand, quantitative data generally refer to the numeric data that involve numbers and the impact intensity of the essential research factors can be understood by the usage of the quantitative data (Uher, 2021). In order to increase the credibility, generalisability and contextualisation, mixed method research will be the best suited method. Usage of both qualitative and quantitative data will increase the authenticity of the research. Moreover first hand data will be collected through online surveys and secondary data will be collected from Google scholar database in the form of research articles.

Exclusion and inclusion criteria

Only the research articles of the past 6 years (2015-2021) will be considered for the secondary article review. Google scholar and Pubmed databases will be used for collecting the research articles. The research articles that are in English, have free accession will only be selected for the article review. Finally 6-7 articles will be chosen for the secondary qualitative analyses. It will try to collect the research articles which deal with teenage anxiety of the UK based population. However, if not possible then global articles on teenage anxiety will be collected.

Sampling technique

Simple random sampling technique is a sampling strategy that is enhanced by the probability sampling technique (Etikan and Bala, 2017). In this way, each individual who is capable of serving the purpose of the research sample can get equal opportunity of being selected as a research sample. Total sample size will be 101 teenagers who are suffering from anxiety issues. 

Data collection process

Online survey tool will be used for collecting the survey responses from the teenagers who are suffering from anxiety issues. In order to contact the possible samples, the mental health organizations of Northampton will be considered. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services will be the chosen mental care organization to select the final primary samples.

Data analysis techniques

Article wise review of 6-7 articles on the research topic will be done as secondary qualitative analysis. For the survey analysis, the graphical data that will be prepared by Google form will be assessed question by question manner.

Ethics

As the research topic deals with mental illness, the topic itself is sensitive. Therefore, all the research data will be kept confidential. All the research participants will be confirmed after taking consents and no data will be used other than academic purposes. This research will follow all the ethical guidelines of Data Protection Act 2018 (Legislation, 2021).

5. Timeline

[Refer to appendix I]

6. Expected outcomes

By the completion of the research, the researcher will be able to find out the impacts of social influences on anxiety disorders of the teenagers. Thus, it can be said that with the completion of the research the research objectives will be achieved successfully. Gaining the answer of the research questions is the desirable outcome that is going to be achieved by the completion of the proposed research.

References

Denizet-Lewis, B., (2017). Why are more American teenagers than ever suffering from severe anxiety. The New York Times Magazine11.

Etikan, I. and Bala, K., (2017). Sampling and sampling methods. Biometrics & Biostatistics International Journal5(6), p.00149.

Foster, C.E., Horwitz, A., Thomas, A., Opperman, K., Gipson, P., Burnside, A., Stone, D.M. and King, C.A., (2017). Connectedness to family, school, peers, and community in socially vulnerable adolescents. Children and youth services review81, pp.321-331.

Horn, P.J. and Wuyek, L.A., (2010). Anxiety disorders as a risk factor for subsequent depression. International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice14(4), pp.244-247.

Horowitz, J.M. and Graf, N., (2019). Most US teens see anxiety and depression as a major problem among their peers. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center, February20.

Legislation (2021). Data Protection Act 2018. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/12/contents/enacted [Accessed 20th December 2021]

Leigh, E. and Clark, D.M., (2018). Understanding social anxiety disorder in adolescents and improving treatment outcomes: Applying the cognitive model of Clark and Wells (1995). Clinical child and family psychology review21(3), pp.388-414.

Locsin, B. and Salvador, M., (2021). Excess Anxiety’s Effect on the Occurrence of Insomnia in Adolescents in Late Adolescence. Journal of Asian Multicultural Research for Medical and Health Science Study2(3), pp.52-59.

Maes, M., Nelemans, S.A., Danneel, S., Fernández-Castilla, B., Van den Noortgate, W., Goossens, L. and Vanhalst, J., (2019). Loneliness and social anxiety across childhood and adolescence: Multilevel meta-analyses of cross-sectional and longitudinal associations. Developmental psychology55(7), p.1548.

Mental Health Foundation (2021). Teenagers’ mental health under severe pressure as pandemic continues – new research. Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/news/teenagers-mental-health-pandemic [Accessed 20th December 2021]

Odgers, C.L. and Jensen, M.R., (2020). Annual Research Review: Adolescent mental health in the digital age: facts, fears, and future directions. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry61(3), pp.336-348.

Orçan, F., (2018). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis: which one to use first?. Journal of Measurement and Evaluation in Education and Psychology9(4), pp.414-421.

Perrotta, G., (2019). Anxiety disorders: definitions, contexts, neural correlates and strategic therapy. J Neur Neurosci6(1), p.042.

Power, S.A., Velez, G., Qadafi, A. and Tennant, J., (2018). The SAGE model of social psychological research. Perspectives on Psychological Science13(3), pp.359-372.

Rodebaugh, T.L., Tonge, N.A., Piccirillo, M.L., Fried, E., Horenstein, A., Morrison, A.S., Goldin, P., Gross, J.J., Lim, M.H., Fernandez, K.C. and Blanco, C., (2018). Does centrality in a cross-sectional network suggest intervention targets for social anxiety disorder?. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology86(10), p.831.

Ryan, G., (2018). Introduction to positivism, interpretivism and critical theory. Nurse researcher25(4), pp.41-49.

Ryder, M., Jacob, E. and Hendricks, J., (2019). An inductive qualitative approach to explore Nurse Practitioners views on leadership and research: An international perspective. Journal of clinical nursing28(13-14), pp.2644-2658.

Smith, B. and McGannon, K.R., (2018). Developing rigor in qualitative research: Problems and opportunities within sport and exercise psychology. International review of sport and exercise psychology11(1), pp.101-121.

Statista (2021). Share of young people who reported experiences of depression/feeling down in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2009 to 2021. Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1199302/depression-among-young-people-in-the-united-kingdom/ [Accessed 20th December 2021]

The Guardian (2018). More than half of children in England and Wales bullied about appearance. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/28/more-than-half-of-children-in-england-and-wales-bullied-about-appearance [Accessed 20th December 2021]

Uher, J., (2021). Psychometrics is not measurement: Unraveling a fundamental misconception in quantitative psychology and the complex network of its underlying fallacies. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology41(1), p.58.

Woiceshyn, J. and Daellenbach, U., (2018). Evaluating inductive vs deductive research in management studies: Implications for authors, editors, and reviewers. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal.

Wozney, L., McGrath, P.J., Gehring, N.D., Bennett, K., Huguet, A., Hartling, L., Dyson, M.P., Soleimani, A. and Newton, A.S., (2018). eMental healthcare technologies for anxiety and depression in childhood and adolescence: systematic review of studies reporting implementation outcomes. JMIR mental health5(2), p.e9655.

Wu, X., Qi, J. and Zhen, R., (2021). Bullying victimization and adolescents’ social anxiety: Roles of shame and self-esteem. Child Indicators Research14(2), pp.769-781.

Young, K.S., Sandman, C.F. and Craske, M.G., (2019). Positive and negative emotion regulation in adolescence: links to anxiety and depression. Brain sciences9(4), p.76.

Yun, B.X., Thing, T.S. and Hsoon, N.C., (2019). A quantitative study of relationship between parenting style and adolescent’s self-esteem. Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research304, pp.441-446.

Appendix I: Research timeline

Main activities Week 1 Week 2 3 Week 4-5 Week 6-7 Week 8-10 Week 11 Week 12
Topic selection              
Developing aim              
Literature Review              
Developing plan for research              
Primary and secondary data collection              
Data Analysis              
Interpretation of findings              
Conclusion              
Final submission              
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