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College Stress and College Anxiety – Know the Difference

Home / Blog / College Stress and College Anxiety – Know the Difference

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 Admin  March 14, 2018  General  0

College life is fun and exciting – you get to meet new people from all walks of life, learn about intriguing subjects, make some memories that you will cherish forever. That is how we would love to picture the ideal life of a student – youthful and vigorous – as he steps into that part of his life that can take them for the ride of a lifetime. However, the stats and studies worldwide reveal a much bleaker picture, and it is not one you would like to see. Various mental health studies conducted on the young college students all over the world, point to some shocking facts such as one out of every four students suffer from a clinically diagnosable mental illness and that most of them never ask for help with their situations.

While the pressure of academics in college is quite higher than that in high school, it is alarming to see so many of the students in college suffering from critical illnesses at such a tender stage of their lives. Two of the leading mental illnesses that students in college are mostly affected with are those of stress and anxiety. While they are both used synonymously in conversational jargon, it is essential to understand that from a psychological perspective, they do have their differences. This blog addresses the issue of stress and anxiety in college students along with some of the symptoms to identify if you are suffering from the same as well.

Anxiety and stress – what can they do?

It is important to understand that coping with the pressure of academics in college or university is not everyone’s cup of tea and it is quite alright to suffer from stress or anxiety as you adjust to the new life and so much of rapid changes happening all around you. At the very outset, it is thus imperative that you know that you are not alone. However, it is also important to understand the difference between the two in order to tackle them like a pro, and that is precisely what we aim to do in this blog.

College Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are common human nature, and it is quite alright if you are anxious about certain things in your life. However, it is not okay when it turns into a severe issue and starts hampering your daily life and activities. The day-to-day routinely jobs that you must do to survive college – like attending lectures and keeping pace with the coursework – are some of the things that go for a toss once you let anxiety take control of your life. Your very ability to function normally gets hampered due to the anxiety attacks, and you are too afraid to even venture into anything. This gripping feeling of fear sometimes becomes uncontrollable for the students suffering from advanced anxiety disorders. It all starts with a few worries and gradually captivates your entire brain, flooding it with a pointless fear that you are simply incapable of doing anything by yourself. They spike up those chemicals in the brain, and if you are suffering from anxiety disorders, you will know all about breaking into a cold sweat every time anyone says "exams" or "lectures'" or anything even related to studies.

College Stress

Stress is not a mental illness per se, but a reaction from your body to a challenge that it has faced. Battling life as we go, our body stores stress molecules and can take on an alarming form if not kept in check. Stress leads to a number of mental and physical illnesses including anxiety disorders, depression, and obesity, to name a few. The reasons for people being stressed out cause the brain to release some hormones that are high on cortisol that result in the physical and mental manifestations of the challenge. While a moderate amount of stress helps to keep the mind healthy and active with a steady flow of problem-solving hormones and chemicals in the brain, it can prove to be really harmful to the body and mind once the stress levels get out of hand. The usual responses from the body to stress usually result in a total breakdown of the system due to pushing the limit too far. The other option that the body and mind of a stressed person seek is the escape route, and for college students of impressionable age, this can lead to self-harming and attempts at ending their life. Such are the morbid manifestations of a reaction in the brain to the challenges and the levels usually depend on the nature of the challenge as well as the constitution of the person affected by it.

Therefore, the basic difference in the nature of these two ruling factors in the life of college students of the modern era is that one is a mental illness that can be diagnosed while the other is a reaction in the brain to external factors such as challenges. Stress can result in anxiety disorders and cause the bodily and routine functions in a student’s life to come to a standstill – such is the grave manifestations of this very typical malady among the students in colleges worldwide.

Anxiety and stress – how to recognise the symptoms?

As for the symptoms of anxiety and stress, they usually tend to differ from person to person. Not all symptoms manifest in all, and it is thus wise to watch out for any of the signs that indicate towards a mental illness.

Symptoms of college anxiety

The general symptoms of college anxiety, as mentioned earlier, can manifest in different ways in individuals. Here are some of the key symptoms that point towards common anxiety disorders among the students in college.

  • Irritability issues
  • Having troubles concentrating
  • An unshakeable feeling of apprehension and fear
  • Cold sweats and dizziness
  • Breathing troubles
  • Clenched muscles and frequent diarrhoea
  • Disparities in heartbeat

Symptoms of college stress

The general symptoms of stress manifest as behavioural, emotional, bodily, and cognitive. It effects once a student reaches the level of stress that becomes too much for their bodies and minds to take. Identifying the symptoms of stress is thus very important if you want to stay a step ahead of mental illnesses that are plaguing the students in colleges all over the world. Here are some of the most common symptoms of stress that are observed among the students in college.

  • Loss of patience
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Frequent bouts of diarrhoea and indigestion
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Having troubles concentrating
  • Having increased anxiety and panic attacks
  • Loss of retention power
  • Feeling fatigued all the time

In case you have identified more than three symptoms in yourself or in a friend that you are close with, then it might be time to take some action and do something about it. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that almost 80% of the students feel stressed frequently in the course of their studies in college and about 50% of the students have reportedly faced issues with anxiety disorders while in college. As the stats reveal, the matter of anxiety disorders and stress are major issues for the students in not only the USA but the rest of the world too.

Anxiety and stress – reasons and coping measures

College anxiety and stress – although two different kinds of alarming mental illness issues – are interconnected in their causes and nature. Sometimes stress causes anxiety disorders to be triggered in a student, and those issues need to be addressed as soon as possible before things spiral out of control. The human brain fascinating indeed, and you never know what might cause one to be triggered by anxious responses or cause the body to break down entirely, stripping it of its basic functionality capacities. The following are some major reasons for stress and anxiety among the students in college that can lead to severe mental disorders if not nipped in the bud.

Reasons

The primary reasons for stress and anxiety as observed in college students all around the world point to the following.

• Staying away from home in a new atmosphere causes many students to doubt whether they will be able to make it big and survive this tumultuous time all by themselves. This might be the first time that many of them have lived far away from home and might not be fully prepared to take on life and its many challenges all by themselves. Hence, they feel stressed and anxious for the major part of their time that they are in college.

• The second and the most definite reason that is common for most students facing stress and anxiety in college is that of academic pressure. As academic systems worldwide go for a major upheaval, the students must continuously keep pace with the evolving and complex coursework. The demanding nature of studies, continuous evaluation processes through tests and academic assignments and the high expectations of the professors are some of the major reasons for students becoming victims to stress and anxiety in college.

Coping with stress and anxiety

Dealing with stress and anxiety in college is not something that can happen overnight. Once you identify the symptoms and accept the fact that you might be suffering from college stress and anxiety, you need to prepare a plan to tackle it like a pro. Do not let a phase in your life decide who you are, rather, take action and show that you are better than your stressed out and anxious self. Here are some tips to tackle stress and anxiety disorders when in college.

Never let academic get the better of you, and in case you think you have bitten off more than you can chew, you can always delegate your scholastic tasks to the professional assignment help websites found on the website. Tackle academic stress and anxiety in college like the amazing person you are, and never let any setback get you so down that you start doubting yourself. Remember, the way to recovery and bouncing back with a bang from a stressful period in college rests entirely in your hands. More power to you!

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  • Maintain a timetable of breaks and study hours. Divide your study hours into small chunks, so you do not feel overwhelmed. Take frequent breaks and gather up your energy and determination to power through the next slot of study hours.
  • Practice taking tests – online or offline – that suit the pattern of academics at your college or university. The more you practice taking tests in a simulated environment, the better prepared you will be for the examinations, and that might curb a lot of stress about uncharted waters.
  • Strategise plans and devise ways to calm yourself down. If music works for you, then try scheduling a soothing playlist of your choice on your phone or laptop during the time of the day that stresses you the most. If going for a walk or run is what it takes to get the anxiety out of your mind, then do it. Whatever be your cure for a stressed out soul, use it to its fullest advantage to calm down in times of anxiety or stress attacks.
  • Eat healthy and include a lot of water and fruits in your daily diet to keep yourself updated. While indulging in an occasional pizza in your dorm will do you no harm, try to stay away from junk foods and aerated drinks loaded with sugar molecules. Having a proper diet can tackle most of the illnesses effectively, and stress and anxiety are no exceptions either.
  • Lastly, if you feel that things are steadily going out of your control and your strategies are not working all that well, consider talking to your college counsellor or getting professional help by signing up for yoga therapy or sessions with a psychologist to hear out your story. Having someone to talk to about the unfamiliar feelings and your mental health while in college will give you a pillar of support and confidence that are key in the path towards recovery.
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