Counseling Services Helps Students Manage Anxiety

One of the most common issues facing students is anxiety. While mild anxiety can be expected before exams, interviews and oral presentations, it can become detrimental if it begins to interfere with daily living and an ability to cope.

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, over 40 million men and women are diagnosed with anxiety disorders annually. At college campuses throughout the nation the number of students experiencing anxiety-related conditions is increasing.

Anxiety Symptoms

If your student experiences the following symptoms on a regular basis, he/she should seek assistance:

  • Unrealistic or excessive worry and fears.
  • Excessive sweating, trembling, shakiness, muscle aches.
  • Stomach upset, diarrhea, extreme dry mouth.
  • Dizziness, chronic tension headaches.
  • Racing or pounding heart, chest tightness.
  • Rapid pulse, episodes of hyperventilation.
  • Ritualistic behaviors to reduce or avoid anxiety.
  • Extreme and/or prolonged feelings of disappointment, anger, depression, helplessness.

Test Anxiety Can Affect Student Learning

One type of anxiety faced by students is test anxiety. While a certain level of nervousness is common for students, especially when facing challenging exams and courses, it is the level of anxiety that differentiates the condition. Whereas mild anxiety can be a powerful motivator that encourages students to prepare for tests, excessive worry can be so effective that it perpetuates a cycle that erodes confidence as well as interferes with learning and performance.

Characteristics of Student Test Anxiety

  • Feelings of "going blank" during exams.
  • Racing heart, breathing difficulty and feeling like the room is "closing in" during exams.
  • Sudden knowledge of answers after turning in tests.
  • Low/inconsistent scores on exams.

Causes of Mild Test Anxiety

Some forms of test anxiety can be temporary and/or short duration experiences that result from students having an unclear understanding of the course material, poor study or time management skills, insufficient test preparation, and/or lack of organization.

Prolonged Test Anxiety

Sometimes a cycle develops that affects student learning and performance on a regular basis. The cycle begins with test anxiety that may have resulted from prior bad experiences with test taking, lack of confidence, fear of failure, performance anxiety and/or other reasons.

As the cycle progresses, students feel overly threatened of ensuing exams and/or inadequate and unsure of their abilities. Such feelings often lead to nervousness, tension and anxiety. If these conditions persist and build, students can become panicked and lose their concentration and confidence during the tests. If poor test performance and grades result, the students begin to fear their next exams, thus perpetuating the cycle.

Counseling Can Help Students with Anxiety

For individuals experiencing anxiety, it can be frustrating and detrimental to their academic performance as well as to their psychological, physical and emotional health. BW's Counseling Services offers students an environment for discussing anxiety as well as other factors that may be contributing to the condition. Among its many programs, Counseling Services offers individual counseling, psychological/personality testing, and screenings for depression, anxiety, eating disorders and alcohol misuse.

Head to the Spa

A free service, Mind Spa helps students relieve stress, improve their mood and boost energy.
It is located in the Health Center and is available on a first-come, first-served sign-up basis.
Learn more about Mind Spa