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Many students experience anxiety while at school

BY BILL COONEY | JANUARY 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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Anxiety can easily cause difficulty for any University of Iowa student.

“I felt like I didn’t want or need to do the things I needed to do,” UI freshman Robbie Sloss said. “I felt helpless.”

He said anxiety affected him most during finals week.

“Anxiety makes students freak out over things that aren’t big deal, he said.

Sloss is one of 40 million adults in the United States who will face the most commonly diagnosed mental illness: anxiety.

Many college students will experience some form of anxiety during their time at school, and the UI is no exception.

“Anxiety is very common in college students,” Iowa City psychiatrist Kimberly VerHoef said.

“Forty-one percent of college student who go to university counseling centers say anxiety was their reason for seeking help.”

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults ages 18 and older — 18 percent of the population.

Symptoms of anxiety can include butterflies in the stomach, sweating, hyperventilation, chest and heart pounding, digestive problems, and developing a rash, VerHoef said.

Anxiety can also include rumination, which she described as “when you can’t fall asleep because your head is going around in circles, and you can’t shut it off.”

“Anxiety is a normal human reaction that can be caused by students’ first college class, speech, or especially their first final,” she said.

Anxiety can also happen before the semester begins.

“I’m the only person from my high school to go to Iowa, so I was anxious before starting school,” UI freshman Nile Cobb said.

Cobb, who is from Kansas City, Missouri, said his anxiety went away once he arrived on campus.

“Things fell into place pretty quickly,” he said. “I think everyone experiences a little anxiety, especially over things they can’t control.”

Ways to prevent anxiety include eating well, having a regular sleeping schedule, and avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol or narcotics, VerHoef said.

“A rule I like to give people is that if you’ve had anxiety that interferes with your life and gets in the way of doing things you enjoy for two weeks, you should talk to someone or seek out professional help,” she said.

The UI has a counseling service, VerHoef emphasized.

“A lot of college students don’t know that their health insurance covers anxiety,” she said. “Anxiety comes and goes; there are times it’s a huge problem. It will go away on its own most times, but if you’re suffering from it, there’s no reason not to get help.”


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