College can be a very exciting time filled with new opportunities and adventures. It can also be very stressful and cause you to worry or feel anxious and overwhelmed. Experiencing some nervousness or anxiety is a normal reaction under some circumstances. Most of us have experienced anxiety before an important event such as a big exam, a job interview, giving a speech or that first date. This type of anxiety can usually be managed by practicing good self-care habits such as getting enough rest, eating well, exercising and spending time with friends. Learning specific skills such as time management and good study habits can also help with decreasing levels of anxiety.

There are instances however, when symptoms of anxiety can become overwhelming and start to interfere in your life. Symptoms such as excessive worry, unrealistic fears and various physical symptoms such as headaches, shortness of breath or pain can be associated with various types of anxiety disorders. An anxiety disorder can cause a great deal of distress and it may require that you seek professional help to manage the symptoms.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health diagnosis in America. More than 19 million adults are affected by anxiety disorders each year. Descriptions of some of the most common anxiety disorders are listed below:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Excessive anxiety and worry accompanied by restlessness, fatigue, irritability, feeling tense and sleep difficulties. People with GAD often have a persistent and unrealistic fear that something bad is going to happen.


Overwhelming or incapacitating fear of a particular object or circumstance that leads to avoiding that situation or circumstance. Examples of common phobias are fear of closed spaces, spiders, flying, blood, heights, thunderstorms or certain animals.

Panic Disorder

Periods of intense sudden fear and anxiety that occurs often and without warning. Symptoms can include: chest pain, racing heartbeat, problems breathing and fears of fainting, having a heart attack, losing control or dying.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The experience of being preoccupied with repeated unwanted thoughts or compulsive behaviors that seem impossible to control and interfere with everyday life.

Social Anxiety Disorder

The experience of intense anxiety in a specific social situation such as public speaking or meeting new people. Individuals who struggle with Social Anxiety Disorder may severely limit what they do to avoid unfamiliar people or situations.


Resource Links

  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)