Anxiety

Anxiety, worry, and fear are normal parts of all of our lives and they are inherent in our human experiences. College students may experience these emotions quite often with pressures of academic deadlines, making friends, juggling relationships and/or jobs, and dealing with parental expectations or family conflict. Add a dash of trying to figure out who you are and what you want to do with your life and you’ve got a perfect recipe for anxiety.

Situational and developmental anxiety is experienced at some level by all students whether it is evident or not to the outside observer. Under appropriate circumstances, this type of anxiety is actually very good for us because it keeps us alert in dealing with new experiences and it motivates us to do well.

However, too much anxiety becomes self-defeating. With normal anxiety (situational or developmental), most of the time simply paying attention to self-care strategies like getting enough sleep, good nutrition, and balance between academic pursuits and leisure time can be sufficient for managing anxiety. Also, acquiring some self-help skills such as meditation, deep breathing techniques, or losing the negative self-talk is likely to help people decrease and manage anxiety.

What do you do, however, when you cross the line between normal and healthy anxiety to excessive and destructive anxiety? Seeking professional help to figure out what causes the anxiety and perhaps its triggers is very important. Our therapists can help you in exploring your symptoms and will develop a treatment plan to assist you in decreasing your anxiety and improving your overall sense of well-being. Contact our office to make an appointment at (317)788-5015 or stop by – we’re on the second floor of the Schwitzer Student Center.

Frequently Asked Questions About Anxiety

What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a ubiquitous term because it encompasses so many aspects of the human emotion we call fear. Anxiety is normal and everyone experiences it. It’s the feeling one gets at the pit of his or her stomach when performing some new task or when under public scrutiny. Or it is the racing mind, sweaty palms, and wildly thumping heart because of some big test, speech, or potential conflict with another individual. It can also show up as difficulty sleeping, eating, or concentrating. These are all signs that you are feeling threatened and they are your body’s way of saying, “get ready!”

Almost any situation that puts demands on you can cause anxiety. You will experience anxiety from both good and bad situations because even positive situations put a strain and demand on your body. However, you have a great deal of control over how that anxiety plays itself out depending on your perceptions of the event and the self-care skills you have developed in response to stressful situations.

For some, however, the anxiety becomes debilitating and overwhelming affecting every aspect of their daily lives. In these cases, it takes more than using self-help strategies and problem-solving. Trained professionals such as the therapists at our counseling center can provide a treatment plan for you designed to help you conquer your fears and anxieties.

What is the treatment course for Anxiety?

There are many effective treatments for anxiety disorders. Generally, a therapist will work with you from a few different vantage points including reducing your physiological reactivity, eliminating inappropriate or defeatist negative self-talk, helping you to face your anxious situations (and disrupting avoidance behaviors) and assisting you with developing relaxation and coping skills so that you can feel a sense of mastery over excessive anxiety.

Psychotherapy techniques such as the ones listed above are highly effective in treating individuals with anxiety. There are some individuals who may also benefit from medical treatment. Your therapist will work with you to determine what the best course of action is in treating your anxiety.

Tips for Dealing with Anxiety

Why are some people more vulnerable to Anxiety than others?

Everyone experiences some level of anxiety at times because it is part of being human. However, some individuals appear to be more vulnerable to stress and anxiety than others. While research has not provided all the answers to questions about anxiety, there is much support for the premise that a variety of factors predispose an individual to anxiety.

Heredity appears to play some role, although learning and environment also has an impact. Additionally, those who have less of a need for “control” in their lives and who are comfortable with not always knowing how things are going to turn out appear to be less anxious.

Those with greater self-confidence and higher self-esteem also appear to be less nervous. Probably the greatest determinant of how vulnerable an individual is going to be to anxiety is looking at multiple factors in their lives at any given moment. For example, the Diathesis Stress model is useful in making some predictions of vulnerability or risk factors for anxiety because it takes multiple factors into account including heredity, personality, current stressors in the person’s life, family impact, and past trauma.

The idea is that the more factors involved, the greater the vulnerability to stress that can lead to anxiety. Even if you are prone to anxiety, however, it is important to recognize that you can be less affected or overwhelmed with anxiety by learning ways to react to and control anxiety as it arises.

What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

Many physical symptoms are related to anxiety including headaches, insomnia, TMJ, irritable bowel syndrome, skin rashes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and lowered immune systems to name a few. Typical signs of anxiety can include:

 

How do I manage my Anxiety?

Make self-care strategies and regular “de-stressing” techniques part of your everyday lifestyle. The following suggestions have been helpful for many people in decreasing their overall anxiety:

What are Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks are discreet and unexpected episodes that occur when a person has high physiological reactivity or is experiencing overwhelming stress and anxiety reactions to events. Panic attacks may or may not occur when individuals have an anxiety disorder. If you have experienced one, you probably know that often there are overwhelming feelings of fear, loss of control, shame, and anticipatory anxiety that can be put into motion as individuals begin to fear another panic attack and attempt to avoid the situations or environments that they believe trigger the attacks. There is a better way to deal with these symptoms, however, that will make them manageable and even non-existent with practice. Some things you can do if you do experience a panic attack are:

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

OCD is a biologically based anxiety disorder that often begins in childhood and is likely to have some genetic components. It is characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions that negatively impact or limit the person’s daily functioning yet the individual continues to engage in them either because they are stuck in a repetitive cycle of worry (obsessions) or as a means of reducing anxiety (compulsions). 

Obsessions are unwanted recurrent and intrusive thoughts, images, or impulses that are distressing and the individual feels he or she has no control over. Compulsions are repetitive thoughts or behaviors that the individual engages in to reduce the anxiety or discomfort he or she is experiencing. Both obsessions and compulsions are usually recognized as irrational and unrealistic fears by OCD sufferers, but they feel powerless and hopeless about managing, controlling, or stopping them.

Although symptoms of OCD vary widely from individual to individual, some common obsessions and compulsions include”

We are all creatures of habit, so it is important to remember that every one has rituals or habits in their lives. Being neat and clean, being organized, or liking to do things in a particular order does not mean a person has OCD. It is only when behaviors become excessive and interfere with daily living that OCD should be considered. For example, people with OCD may avoid or neglect important areas of their lives because they spend so much time engaging in ritualistic or avoidance behaviors.

OCD is a treatable anxiety disorder that can be relieved through psychotherapy, medication, and/or behavior therapy. Contact us if you believe that you are experiencing obsessions and/or compulsions that have taken over your daily life.



Relaxation and Meditation Resources

Combine a number of these DVDs, CDs, and Books to create a relaxing environment, positive mind, and relaxed body. Good Luck.

These materials can be found from multiple sources but they are linked here to Amazon.com. By following the links, you can read reviews of the resources and check prices. 

Relaxation DVDs to Create a Soothing Environment

Relaxation and Meditation books and tapes