Description: This is the last of three posts relating to anxiety and research into its prevalence and management. For students in high school and especially in college or university, anxiety can be a regular occurrence. Particularly as one moves beyond high school and out into post-secondary life there are many things that can give rise to thoughts of and physiological reaction to stress and stressful situations and to feelings of anxiety, both short and longer term. While emerging adulthood – starting aroudn18 years of age – can be approached as the starting point of a life-long personally managed journey it can (and actually should) also come with challenges like uncertainty and, yes, anxiety. The other posts this week dealt with things you can do to manage or to reframe anxiety either as manageable or a guide to challenge and excitement. There is a LOT of Psychological research on the prevalence and management of anxiety disorders among emerging adults (college and university students) but most of that research, perhaps understandably, focusses on anxiety and related disorder categories within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and not on the subjective experiences emerging adults may have with anxiety or on the ways in which those subjective experience of anxiety might increase, decrease or otherwise morph and change as you move into emerging adulthood. Before you have a look at the articles linked below think a bit about your experiences with anxiety in your recent life. Have things changed in this area since you left high school? For the better or for worse? How do you think about, approach and, hopefully, manage the situations that make you feel anxious and/or your feelings of anxiety when they bubble up? The first linked article is very general and talks about recent research looking at the prevalence of mental health issues among first year college or university student world-wide. The second article, hopefully, will relieve any, or at least some of the, anxiety potentially generated by the first article by talking about the difference between “simple” feelings of anxiety and anxiety disorders. Between the two articles lies one of the tasks of emerging adulthood – figuring out when you need help and how to get that help with anxiety as a symptom and when some of your new inner experiences of anxiety are reflective of or arise from things that YOU need to understand and figure out how to deal with for yourself (though there can be help for that too!).
Source: One in three college freshmen worldwide reports mental health disorder, Science News, ScienceDaily. And The difference between regular feelings of anxiety and a true anxiety disorder, ULifeline.
I suppose one take-away from a read through these two articles is that being a first-year student is hazardous to one’s mental health and that even when that is avoided there is still plain old anxiety to struggle with. More constructively, however, another interpretive option is to view much of your recent or current life anxieties as transitory or, perhaps better, as developmental. If you can reframe your current life experiences and the feelings and stresses related to them as identity relevant sources of data that you can build upon or with as you start to chart out and then embark upon your personal/adult life journey I suspect you will find that your anxieties will diminish as you take them on and move past them. For some tips on how to go about doing that enter the search term “life design” into the site’s search bar up at the top of this screen and see what you find. Good luck!
Questions for Discussion:
- What is the difference between feelings of anxiety that are part of life in emerging adulthood and an anxiety disorder?
- In what ways have your experiences with anxiety changed since you left high school?
- What are some of the ways in which feelings of anxiety might lead to positive life experiences (experiences of personal growth)?
References (Read Further):
Auerbach, R. P., Mortier, P., Bruffaerts, R., Alonso, J., Benjet, C., Cuijpers, P., … & Murray, E. (2018). WHO world mental health surveys international college student project: Prevalence and distribution of mental disorders. Journal of abnormal psychology, 127(6), 1-16. https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/abn-abn0000362.pdf
Goodman, Ken University of fear and anxiety: How to pass your freshman year of college. Anxiety and Depression Association of America, https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/university-fear-and-anxiety
Eisenberg, D., Gollust, S. E., Golberstein, E., & Hefner, J. L. (2007). Prevalence and correlates of depression, anxiety, and suicidality among university students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(4), 534-542. https://cms.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/437496/prevalenceUniStudents.pdf
Renk, K., & Smith, T. (2007). Predictors of academic-related stress in college students: An examination of coping, social support, parenting, and anxiety. Naspa Journal, 44(3), 405-431. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kimberly_Renk2/publication/224027081_Predictors_of_Academic-Related_Stress_in_College_Students_An_Examination_of_Coping_Social_Support_Parenting_and_Anxiety/links/566f78f908ae4d9a4257275c/Predictors-of-Academic-Related-Stress-in-College-Students-An-Examination-of-Coping-Social-Support-Parenting-and-Anxiety.pdf