Villanova University states that, “An anxiety disorder typically causes a great deal of distress, and interferes with the ability to relax and experience a sense of enjoyment and well-being. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders comprise the most common mental health diagnosis in the U.S. Approximately 1 in 9 people suffer from an anxiety disorder at any given time (Villanova).” Anxiety is basically a state of constant worry that can result in both mental and physical distress.
What are some symptoms of anxiety? They can affect people both physically and mentally. Emotional symptoms include “feelings of apprehension or dread, trouble concentrating, feeling tense and jumpy, anticipating the worst, irritability, restlessness, watching for signs of danger, and feeling like your mind has gone blank (Georgetown University).” Physical symptoms include “pounding heart, sweating, upset stomach, dizziness, frequent urination, diarrhea, shortness of breath, tremors and twitches, muscle tension, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia (Georgetown University).”
College is a time for exploring oneself and finding what one really wants out of life. Unfortunately, it is also a time of stress. According to one study, more than half of the students at some school are diagnosed and or treated for anxiety. “More than half of the students visiting campus health clinics listed anxiety as a concern. That finding was borne out by the American College Health Association (ACHA) 2015 National College Health Assessment survey, which reported that nearly one in six college students (15.8 percent) had been diagnosed with, or treated for, anxiety (Brown).” This number is much too high. Why is that?
There is more pressure on students to perform because some of these tests decide where they will be placed. If they don’t perform well, they may be set back and have to take more classes than initially anticipated. “As a result of the emphasis placed on tests in the educational system, pressure to perform well is increasing for students (Damer).”
There are different forms of anxiety. There is test anxiety which is fairly common in college students. There is also social anxiety and general anxiety disorder. “Highly anxious students show a tendency toward excessive drinking relative to their peers, more susceptibility to the peer influences of drinking (Neighbors et al., 2007), and higher rates of cannabis use than their less anxious college peers (Oyefeso, 1991) (Damer).”
Everyone feels sad at some point in life so how can one know if it is at a critical level? “When day-to-day functioning is affected, but before it’s impaired, that’s when to get help. Similarly, with depression, everyone experiences a low mood day or a disappointment they just can’t shake off, whether that’s because of a bad grade, a relationship ending, or a fight with a friend. But when feelings of sadness, loneliness, or low self-worth become the norm, reaching out is really important (Brown).” People must know themselves. If they feel that something isn't right, it is better to seek help and be safe.
It is important for students to know that there are resources available to help them. Students can get screened for anxiety and other disorders. “Sometimes a screening can be lifesaving, while other times it helps facilitate the small change that allows someone to go from feeling okay to feeling good (Brown).” This diagnosis is the first step to getting treatment.
There are many options for treatment. One can use medication. There is also therapy. This can be a great way to find out what is causing stress. “Therapy helps patients identify unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthy, positive ones. It is based on the idea that your own thoughts – not other people or situations – determine how you behave (Georgetown University).” There are also alternatives such as keeping a journal, meditating or doing yoga.
This research could be used to help future college students. Perhaps it would be wise to implement some class in high school that teaches students how to cope with anxiety from a younger age. Not everyone will have anxiety. However, statistics show that the number is very high at this time. Teaching students how to deal with it early on could prevent severe anxiety, depression and self esteem issues later on in life.