How Does Anxiety Affect College Students?

How anxiety relates to myself and the people around me. 

While sitting here thinking about what to write about and getting anxious while doing so, I thought why not write about something that hits close to home. Anxiety has been present in my life way too long, I have been diagnosed with severe anxiety and a panic disorder. Panic disorder pretty much means that I can have an anxiety at any time and I don’t expect it, although sometimes I know they can still be random, which really stinks. I have been seeing a counselor the last FOUR years of my life and I am very thankful to have someone in my life like her. She’s great and it’s nice talking to someone who actually keeps a secret. As I stated in my last blog post, I am very interested to see how anxiety can affect people, especially college students. Being a RA I see a lot of this first hand, it can be anything from classes, sorority rushing, adjusting to college life, roommates, etc. I want to make this blog post all about anxiety and why college students are so heavily impacted by this small word.


Image found here

What is anxiety?

Learn Psychology states that stress is caused by a challenge that is presented to us whether it be good or bad. Personally for me, when a homework or exam is presented I immediately lock up and it isn’t good at all. There are 3 types of stress that are known by psychologists right now. Acute stress is the stress that mostly everyone goes through, it can be anything from being stressed/excited about going to your prom or starting college. This type of stress can be positive or negative but at the end of the day it passes. Episodic stress is the next level of stress that usually happens to Type A personalities. It is when there is a constant or reoccurring stressor that keeps coming back. Chronic acute stress is the last one that is truly the worst one. As many would say this stress is like seeing no light at the end of the tunnel.

Anxiety comes from numerous different outlets. But when talking about college students it usually stems from classes, a job, relationships or trying to fit in. Another article I found interesting that answered a lot of questions that I have is this article right here. This article talks about the different stressors that college students face, especially first year students or transfer students. I remember when I first came to Penn State there was so much diversity and I honestly just didn’t know how to handle it. But not in a bad way, I came from a 95% all white community with the occasional study abroad student who came and lived with a family.  I am completely all for diversity but sometimes you don’t know what to say to a different race or culture because you don’t want to offend them. College is about stepping out of your comfort zone and to a lot of people that can be anxiety inducing.

According to BU Today, anxiety is now the number one diagnosis in college students. This statement makes so much sense to me and I am glad that the word is finally getting out there. Professors are a hit or a miss when talking about this topic. I have had a professor personally say to me “Don’t worry, your anxiety won’t interfere with your work in this class.” HELLO, yes it will. It drives me absolutely insane when people say that. ESPECIALLY PROFESSORS. According to the study, from 2010/2011 to 2015 the number of college students that reached out for help nearly doubled. Another part I want to hit on is how anxiety can affect school performance in college students. In the year 2015, the Penn State study from BU Today reported that 21.8% of students enrolled in college had either did poorly on an exam or dropped a class from high levels of anxiety. I am apart of that 21.8% without a doubt. During my sophomore year I had to go to the hospital for an anxiety attack over ECON 102. Later I had to drop that class due to health concerns. Can you believe it? A class like economics can cause a student that much anxiety.


How can we help those affected by anxiety? 

Since I wrote a whole blog post about anxiety and the negative effects that come with it, I figured now would be a great time to talk about how we can help those who are affected by anxiety. From experience with residents, friends and family the best thing anyone can do is to just listen. Don’t ever get frustrated when talking to someone with anxiety. Sometimes people just need to vent and they feel a lot better afterwards. Don’t love them any less because they suffer from anxiety. Anxiety can be stopped in anyone just by love & support.

Teenager consoling her friend

Teenager consoling her friend

Image found here.



1 thought on “How Does Anxiety Affect College Students?

  1. Emily Fiacco Tuite

    Hi Cristen,

    I really liked your blog because I get stressed out all of the time and I think that is cool to learn about. Everyone goes through stress or anxiety in their lives and I thought that your post was helpful in learning how to make it all better for whoever is stressed. I also had a little bit of culture shock when I first arrived on campus a few weeks ago. Here is an article I found that has talks about some cures for stress.

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