A woman from Naples, thriving after years of battling anxiety and depression and using alcohol and drugs to quell pain, talks about her past as a way to raise awareness.

“I just realized that helping others who went through a similar struggle was really my calling,” Amy Quinn said. “It kind of started in high school where I started to feel pressured from getting good grades and participating.”

Quinn was an athlete and in student leadership, but the pressure led to anxiety and depression in her sophomore year. She continued, graduated and went to college. From the outside, everything seemed wonderful.

“I would cry all day in my room,” Quinn said. “Alcohol or smoking cigarettes or smoking a pot, like … those were the things I would do to feel better.”

But the parties, to disguise the pain, took their toll, and Quinn dropped out of freshman college.

“I needed to see a therapist, I needed to see a psychiatrist, I needed to go to group therapy sessions, and I really needed to just focus on learning to manage my mental health,” Quinn said.

She is not alone. Nearly one in five Americans is anxious and in most symptoms appear before the age of 21

“They may feel irritable, they may have muscle tension … a feeling of palpitations, shortness of breath, a sense of impending doom, as if they were having a heart attack,” said Dr. Heather Hughes, a psychiatric nurse at Elite DNA. Therapy. “You want to make sure that there is no medical reason for your concern – certain, you know, thyroid problems in the elderly, potentially UTIs, heart problems, gastrointestinal problems.”

Quinn’s story doesn’t end after she dropped out of freshman year.

“I ended up getting two master’s degrees in psychology,” Quinn said.

Now the mother of three is working on a PhD. She says she praises her children’s hard work, not their results, to avoid pressure on perfection. Instead of “work great getting a grade,” Quinn tells them, “Great job, I know you studied very hard for this test.”

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