New documentary featuring metro Detroit fifth grader focuses on anxiety

Posted at 11:26 PM, Nov 14, 2017

Denise is a local wife, mother and writer who knows all too well what it's like to struggle with anxiety.

"My heartbeat feels like it's in my whole body .. it feels like my whole body is sort of .. pounding," she said. 

She says her journey with anxiety came after she was first diagnosed with depression two decades ago.

"I think I've always had it to some degree, but I didn't realize what I was feeling wasn't "normal" .. that it was probably tipping over into the anxiety realm."

It's not just adults struggling with anxiety. Many kids are overwhelmed by it, too. Some people have paralyzing fears. Denise recognized the anxiety in her own son, Charlie, when he was in first grade.

"I was so sad for him .. that was something he was going through because I knew firsthand what it felt like," she says.

Charlie is now in the 5th grade and recently opened up about dealing with anxiety in a new documentary,called "Angst." 

The film explores the disorder, its causes and effects. It also focuses on how to help those who are struggling with it.

Kids between 8 and 18 spoke candidly about their experiences.

Dr. Michael Young is a clinical psychologist. He says anxiety disorders are the most common mental health challenge is the US.

He says the number of people dealing with it has been on the rise, especially in the last 8 to 10 years. He adds, "There's been a real increase in kids and adolescents."

He says it's important to understand that we all have anxiety, but when it's at a diagnosable level, it's interfering with your life.

"Too often, there's a misperception you're supposed to keep someone safe and not at all anxious, but that's not realistic in life .. so it's important to know how to deal with it. It doesn't have to cripple you."

Dr. Young says there's no cookie cutter approach to dealing with it, but some tools that can help include practicing slowing your breathing.

"For 4 seconds, breathe in through your nose and then hold for 7. Then, exhale through your mouth," he says.

Dr. Young says exercise, doing something that brings you joy, can help too. Also, keep track of how you're feeling each day. If you see a trend, that may be a signal to seek professional help. But no matter what, talking about it is critical.

For Denise, she says talking about it has helped her the most, but exercise is what sustains her.

She says yoga has transformed her ability to deal with anxiety and depression. She says her son, Charlie, is doing great. He loves to swim and that's been one tool that's helped him.

Denise says sharing his story has helped him, too.

"One of the biggest things Charlie has said .. is I'm not just being told I'm not the only one.. I can see I'm not the only one."

If you'd like to learn more about the documentary "Angst," go to

There is a free screening of the film on December 7 at Derby Middle School in Birmingham.