Stressed? You’re in good company

Today is National Anxiety Screening Day to help students keep their stress in check.,”

"Ah, I'm stressed out." You've probably said it, maybe today. You've also probably heard it more than once a day. Whether it be studies, friends, family or work, the list of stressors is long.

Today is National Anxiety Screening Day to help students keep their stress in check. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. Fortunately, these conditions are treatable and do not have to interfere with daily lives.

Two guidelines should help students differentiate anxiety disorder symptoms from routine stress, according to Chris Daood, assistant director of the Marquette Counseling Center.

First, students should gauge how much anxiety is impacting their daily lives. If stress is getting in the way of ordinary events, such as social situations, being in a classroom or studying, it may need more attention.

Second, severe symptoms such as increased heart rate, perspiration and shaking should also raise a red flag.

Anxiety can be intensified in different situations, such as test anxiety where panic and a general anxious feeling will prevent students from concentrating, Daood said.

Anne Mevissen, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said she becomes extraordinarily nervous when it comes to taking tests and quizzes.

"Normally, I'm talkative, and (when taking exams) I'll just get really quiet and my heart will beat faster," Mevissen said.

The Counseling Center provides information on relaxation methods that can help students overcome nerves and perform to their best ability on tests.

Jacqueline Keidel, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, said while there may not necessarily be more stressors in college life, there are certainly more distractions.

"Your friends are all over the place," Keidel said.

While friends may add stress, at other times they are one of the best outlets for anxiety.

"My roommates and I will have a dance party before a big test," Mevissen said.

It is not uncommon for students to resort to one activity, such as drinking, snacking or sleeping, to feel better when stressed.

Doing so, however, can just make matters worse.

"Things that tend to be poor coping mechanisms are things in excess," Daood said.

Key steps to managing stress are the basic responsibilities of taking care of yourself, such as getting enough sleep, eating well and staying hydrated.

As for the link between stress and depression, "stress can be something that is really exhausting" Daood said. "Your body can shut down and your mood can shut down as well."

Anxiety screening will be offered today from noon to 4 p.m. at the Counseling Center in Holthusen Hall. Students may take an anonymous evaluation and meet with a counselor to go over results. From there, counselors may recommend additional counseling based on the results.