Common types of anxiety disorders among college students

If you are about to graduate from high school, go to college for the first time, or just come back from vacation, college life can make your generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) worse.The pressure and change of moving into a dormitory, entering a new class for the first time, or even leaving your parents’ home can bring pressure and difficulties. The following is a brief overview of some common problems faced by college students with and without GAD, as well as tips to help control anxiety during school.

Anticipatory anxiety

An anxiety that is common to everyone but may be more obvious and uncomfortable for people with generalized anxiety disorder is anticipatory anxiety.This is a kind of anxiety that leads to predicting the event or the occurrence of the event. At any time, you may feel anxious while waiting for things, from simple things like the phone call to more important things like the wedding day. University is an exciting new milestone, so in the weeks before heading to campus, people usually feel anxious.

So what can you do to cope with the expected anxiety? A common suggestion for anticipatory anxiety is to simply try and enjoy it. Many people say that they feel “alive” while waiting for something. If you can shift your mindset from someone trying to escape or get out of trouble, you might enjoy the feeling instead of trying to end it.

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But if you have GAD, expect that anxiety may be much worse. For some people, this can have serious consequences, preventing you from preparing properly for school, or even making you consider not going to school at all.

If your anxiety is severe enough to interfere with your plans and life, please discuss with your parents and doctors about getting help through treatment or medication.

Separation anxiety

Another form of anxiety associated with college is separation anxiety.Teens who are about to leave home may feel anxious because they are alone for the first time. This anxiety usually occurs in the first few weeks to months of college. Many people respond by calling frequently or going home, while others face homesickness. Homesickness is a natural developmental process that can be helped by regular and warm conversations with family and friends who can provide you with support.

Most students will overcome these feelings once they are able to establish contact with the campus and other students, but some students may not be ready to make this leap socially or emotionally. If you feel you can’t run away from home, treatment is an option, but going to a local school is another effective way. You can still get valuable education, but stay at home during GAD treatment.

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Social anxiety

Teenagers with social anxiety disorder may encounter challenges during college. After all, most of the content of campus life is social—from attending classes to establishing friendships or romantic relationships, to approaching your professors.

Many students with social anxiety disorder seek professional help from a mental health professional (on-campus or off-campus), and you can also do some extra things on your own while receiving treatment.

For example, if you are worried about an upcoming class presentation, try to choose a topic that you are really passionate about. Cultivating enthusiasm will make it easier to share your knowledge with the class. Or, if you are anxious about making friends, approach people who also seem shy or anxious so that the interaction is less daunting.

Test anxiety

Poor study habits, poor past test scores, unrealistic expectations, and potential anxiety problems can all lead to test anxiety, which can have a major impact on your academic success.

In addition to talking with your professor and/or student counselor about test anxiety, there are some ways to help you stay calm and focused during test time. Techniques can include making sure you are prepared, get enough rest, take a deep breath when you start to feel anxious, and try your best to eliminate any negative thoughts.

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Anxiety about peer pressure

Peer pressure in college is difficult to deal with, whether it is the pressure of alcoholism, drug abuse, sex, or just adaptation. For example, many students worry about the experience of college gatherings and the ability of parents or caregivers to make the right decisions without stress.

One way to avoid peer pressure is to join a club or organization or sport, which can help you meet like-minded peers and minimize the need to gain social recognition from others.

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Although developing a coping strategy that can help you manage your anxiety is a good first step, you don’t have to do it alone. Most colleges and universities have some form of counseling center on campus that can help relieve anxiety, regardless of whether you have been diagnosed with GAD.

If you feel particularly anxious, consider making an appointment with a college counselor or joining an online anxiety support group. It is especially important for people with GAD to seek outside help, because this kind of continuous support can distinguish between pleasant and turbulent college experiences.