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Who hasn't felt anxious, apprehensive or worried? These feelings are a normal part of life. Being able to anticipate things that might happen allows us to make plans and to consider the possible consequences of choices we make.

Those same abilities bring with them the experiences of arousal, especially when what we anticipate is negative or threatening. The whole point of the experience of arousal (e.g., increased heart rate, nausea, trembling, dry mouth, muscle aches, sweating, cold, clammy hands, etc.) is to get us ready to take action: fight or flight.

However, this becomes a problem when what we feel anxious about isn't likely or realistic, or is so far removed from us in time or space that being aroused serves no point. Sometimes anxiety is focused on things we cannot change or control so our anxiety doesn’t help us but distracts us from enjoying the things we could enjoy. In each of these instances, talking with someone (perhaps even to a therapist) is often the most effective way to reign in this unpleasant experience.

When Anxiety is Overwhelming

For some people, anxiety becomes overwhelming and impacts their lives on a daily basis. When this happens, normal patterns of anxiety can become something for which people need to seek professional help. Luckily such help is quite effective and can come in the form of psychological counseling, stress management techniques, or medication.

If you wonder whether or not your experience falls into this category, consider coming to the Student Counseling Services and talking to a member of our professional staff who can help you identify your needs. Also, take our online anxiety screening.


Anxiety is such a common problem that perhaps it would be helpful to talk about some other forms it takes.  Below are some frequent anxiety problems and links to information about them.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Excessive anxiety and worry accompanied by restlessness, fatigue, irritability, feeling tense or sleep difficulties.
  • Phobias: Overwhelming, even incapacitating fear of a particular object or circumstance that always leads to trying everything possible to avoid it.
  • Panic Disorder: Periods of intense, sudden apprehension or fear that brings a sense that something awful is about to happen. Symptoms include chest pain, racing heartbeat, problems breathing or a fear of completely "losing it."
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): The symptoms of anxiety are tied to involvement in some unusual and traumatic experience, although one need not make the connection between that event and the anxiety symptoms for PTSD to happen.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): The experience of being preoccupied with disturbing thoughts, images or ideas that are distressing, unwanted and/or inappropriate or engaging in repetitive behaviors one believes one has to do in an effort to prevent or minimize anxiety.
  • Social phobia or social anxiety disorder: Includes anything from the experience of intense anxiety in a specific social situation (e.g. public speaking or meeting new people) to more extreme and pervasive problems associated with being near or around other people.
  • Test or Performance Anxiety: The experience of anxiety associated with exams and the academic evaluation process that can reach such a level that performance is negatively affected. For more information please see Overcoming Test Anxiety.

Coping With College Articles (PDF)

Links to Other Resources


2017-01-27T09:35:58.875-06:00 2017