The rise of anxiety among youth – How much stress is too much stress?

When your body goes through stress, your nervous system releases a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. The heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, senses become sharper and a “fight or flight” response kicks in.

But when does stress go from a normal physical response to a real-life disorder?

Essays, assignments, projects, midterms and finals can cause unnecessary anxiety for many college students and, unfortunately, there is no test that exists for anxiety disorders. The diagnosis is decided purely off a good and observant examination. There are consistent signs, however, that signify a real problem.

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), over past years, there has been an increase in college students seeking help at their campuses for intense anxiety.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems on college campuses. The ADAA reports that 40 million U.S. adults suffer from an anxiety disorder, 75 percent of whom experience anxiety by the age of 22. As many as 80 percent frequently experience daily stress, 34 percent have felt depressed within the past three months and 13 percent are diagnosed with a health condition like anxiety disorders or depression, with nine percent having considered suicide in the past year.

According to the Global Medical Education, physical symptoms can appear in many ways. Shakiness, disturbed sleep, palpitations, and chronic headaches are psychological symptoms evolving from students being stressed or burned out, but also chronic feelings of being scared, worried, panicked and irritable. This disorder is brought on by genetics, environment, brain chemistry and in some cases a traumatic event.

There is the strong possibility that your anxiety is not brought on by a disorder, but that you are simply going through a stressful time in your life. Being cautious and aware of it increasing is important, because of anxiety’s abilities to raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, continue infertility, speed up the aging process and cause depression and sleeping disorders.

Georgia State’s Counseling and Testing Center helps students experiencing these feelings within their everyday lives. Located on Piedmont Avenue, students can receive a multitude of services. After the intake, a preliminary test assessing your mental state and an initial meeting with a counselor, patients have the option of receiving counseling, psychiatric aid or both.

While counseling and psychiatric aid are options, the Counseling and Testing center also offers the Mind and Body program, which focuses on alternative ways to manage anxiety. It offers nutrition services, biofeedback, a relaxation room to rest in and mind-body wellness workshops. The workshops entail mindful eating, relaxing your mind and body, mind over mood and basic university survival skills.

Tolerance of anxiety can differ from person to person depending on one’s support network, sense of control, ability to deal with emotions and attitude and outlook on life.

It’s important to remember that stress is a normal thing for someone to experience, but because of the effects it can have, it is important to assess how much is too much.