College students make up more than seven percent of adults suffering from anxiety, according to the National Mental Health Association website.
Over the last five decades, statistics have revealed that there has been an increase in students struggling with anxiety, but only half of the 19 million Americans struggling with the ailment seek treatment.
Yolanda Bogan, the director of Sunshine Manor Counseling Center at Florida A&M, specializes in counseling college students with stress and anxiety issues. She said typically when students arrive to college they tend to be very relaxed but as the end of the semester draws near that’s when there tends to be an increase in anxiety.
“Anxiety among college students is very real thing, and we often see the peak of anxiety among our students around the end of the semester,” said Bogan. “Students that are affected be anxiety the most are incoming freshman who are not used to the new situation they are being faced with, and students that are now getting to their actual major, and the course loads are more rigorous. is is when students start to feel overwhelmed and reflect on things. The trigger for anxiety for a college student is almost always linked to academic performance.”
Rachelle Louis, coordinator of counseling programs at Sunshine Manor, said generally a lot of students have new issues and situations to deal with when coming to college that they are not used to handling themselves. This often increases stress for most students because they are not used to their parents not being available right away. With these factors students are introduced into a new world of responsibility they may not be ready for.
“Everybody deals with some level of anxiety in their daily life,” said Louis. “The best way to deal with stress and anxiety is by taking on everyday situations and not allowing them to linger, also getting through our problems and seeking professional help if needed.”
Symptoms of anxiety include obsessive thoughts, poor concentration, constant worry about everyday events and tasks, irritability, insomnia and feelings of being nervous or on edge.
If symptoms persist for more than six months or become more frequent or intense, the problem may be anxiety-related.
“Cumulative stress can affect a person’s physical reactions to certain situations these types of reactions are where we see the anxiety disorder,” said Bogan. “Development and experiences in college may be a cause. There are definitely increased levels of stress and apprehension in college”.
Jessica Williams, a second-year architecture student, began to notice her anxiety her first semester at FAMU. Williams, like most people, thought that the symptoms would eventually go away. Even her parents didn’t consider her symptoms a big deal.
“Anxiousness and stress over things such as relationships and finals are heightened,” said Williams. “I never had a problem before I came to school, or at least I never noticed it. My parents said I was just overreacting, and I thought maybe they were right. But the stress didn’t go away-not even when the semester ended. That’s when I knew this was a problem.”
Bogan said there are signs that instructors can watch for in their students, such as a decreased level of communication, participation with the class and avoidance of eye contact. Students may also act withdrawn or position themselves apart from others.
“Students with an anxiety problem will also become noticeably panicked when called upon in class,” said Bogan. “Anxiety disorders are different from other mental health issues because sufferers are aware that their worrying is more extreme than it should be.”
Because sufferers believe they can control their apprehension, anxiety often goes untreated. Many people do not want to be associated with the social stigmas with mental health illness. Like any other illness the longer you go without treatment the more difficult it becomes to cope with, although it is rare that anxiety progress to more serious disorders, it can make life very hard to handle, Louis said.
Stress management is key in preventing and living with an anxiety disorder, break up tasks and responsibilities, try to find effective and convenient ways to stay organized, Louis suggested. The NMHA website explains:
Many campuses offer free services to students struggling with anxiety and stress related illness, FAMU offers counseling and support group services at Sunshine Manor. Also on the NMHA website there is a list many different resources for college students.