Pressure of university a big trigger of anxiety in students

CASSANDRA MULHERN

Students are at high risk to psychological distress in their studies. Source: Gnarlycraig (Wikipedia)

Students are at high risk to psychological distress in their studies. Source: Gnarlycraig (Wikipedia)

As semester two of the 2015 university year comes to a close, students are preparing for the stress of final assignments and exams, resulting in intense anxiety for many.

Stress is not uncommon among university students, and those who are already predisposed to anxiety and depression can suffer greatly under the pressure to do well in their studies.

Griffith University counsellor Amanda West said she sees a lot of students suffering from anxiety in her work at Griffith.

“Some of the triggers for anxiety include relationship stress, financial stress and certainly performance pressure, which can come from assignments or exams and increased workload,” Ms West said.

“Having a lack of sleep and difficulty getting a work/life balance are also factors.”

The Australian Medical Student’s Association released a report, University Student Mental Health: The Australian Context in 2013, which said 83.9 percent of university students suffered elevated stress levels.

“University students are a very high-risk population,” the AMSA report noted.

The report showed 4.2 percent of undergraduate students and 3.8 percent of graduate students suffered from anxiety disorders, most of which were diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Data: AMSA University Student Mental Health report. Source: Cassandra Mulhern.

Data: AMSA University Student Mental Health report. Source: Cassandra Mulhern.

Students can find support through the university’s Health Services in the form of general practitioners, multi-faith chaplains, counsellors, psychiatrists and private psychologists, Ms West said.

“Other places students can look for support are phone lines such as Lifeline,” she said.

Ms West has offered the following suggestions for students struggling with anxiety during their studies:

  • Try to find balance and get plenty of sleep;
  • Eat healthy and exercise;
  • Take time for yourself to relax and learn to breathe steadily;
  • Take note of your thought patterns to identify anxious, depressive or stressful mindsets;
  • Don’t judge yourself too hardly;
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine; and
  • Seek professional help

If you are struggling, you can contact your university’s health services department or call Lifeline: 13 11 41.

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