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ANXIETY is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam or having a medical test or job interview.

What are the major types of anxiety?

Excessive anxiety can manifest in one of five anxiety disorders — Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or Social Anxiety Disorder – and may require appropriate anxiety disorder treatment to become manageable.

Why do students suffer from anxiety?

A lack of self-esteem, a lower socioeconomic background of the family, and an elevated academic workload are strong predictors of anxiety and stress among students. Students are particularly vulnerable to anxiety since the human brain doesn’t fully develop until the mid-to-late 20s. Student decisions aren’t always the best as their frontal lobe — the lobe responsible for higher-order processing such as critical thinking and decision-making — is not yet fully formed.

New environment

Moving and acclimating to a new environment, can be extremely stressful. Just imagine the number of changes going on simultaneously: they’re adapting to new schedules, heavy loads of coursework (possibly also a job), life with roommates, new cultures, and alternative ways of thinking. They’re meeting new friends, figuring out how to fit in, developing an independent identity, and handling adult responsibilities (probably making some bad decisions along the way).

Dealing with all these changes during a major life transition from adolescence to adulthood can push them past their breaking points. Successfully navigating through all these changes requires cognitive maturity and life skills that many in this age group are still mastering.

Lack of sleep

Multiple studies show the importance of regular, quality sleep in reducing anxiety symptoms. Studying late at night, spending time on social media, and attending parties and hangouts can always steal your sleep and thus leads to anxiety.

Mental health professionals do not completely understand the causes of school anxiety. For some children, the fear and worry associated with school anxiety are related to a specific cause, such as being bullied or having a bad experience at school. For others, the anxiety may be more general and related to social or performance anxiety. Children may develop anxiety if they have been home for a long period, such as during summer vacation or because of illness. A stressful event, such as the death of a family member or moving to a new home, may also trigger the condition.


Symptoms of school anxiety can vary, and they may be physical, emotional, or behavioral.

Physical symptoms may include:
  • stomachaches
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • rapid heartbeat
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
Emotional symptoms may include:
  • fearfulness
  • worry
  • irritability
  • sadness
Behavioral symptoms may include:
  • refusing to go to school or attend class
  • missing school frequently
  • having temper tantrums
  • having crying spells
  • claiming to be sick to try to stay at home

How to deal with anxiety?

Mental health professionals may use a combination of psychotherapy, educational support, and medications to treat school anxiety. Therefore, a collaborative team approach that involves the child, their parents or caregivers, school personnel, and mental health professionals is often necessary.

The first step in treatment is often to meet with the child’s school personnel to develop a plan. This may include adjusting the child’s schedule, providing support in the classroom, or involving the child in social activities outside of school.

Support may take the form of:
  • talking with the child about their anxiety and fears
  • helping the child develop healthy coping mechanisms
  • modeling positive behavior
  • teaching the child relaxation techniques
  • staying involved in the child’s education

Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive, persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Anxiety disorders often involve repeated episodes of sudden intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).

These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger, and can last a long time. You may avoid places or situations to prevent these feelings. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood.
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