How Can College And University Students Address High-Functioning Anxiety?

Mental health disorders aren’t always obvious. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. have a disorder, which adds up to more than 50 million people. For many college students, mental health struggles can be something that they struggle with behind closed doors. 

For many college students, their mental health disorder can be covered up by high achieving or over functioning in academics, athletics or socially. While on the outside it may seem as if they are highly functional students, inside they are struggling with significant anxiety and/or depression. It may not seem like it’s impacting their daily life, but it is. 

It’s important that just individuals still find access to treatment and are supported in seeking treatment for their mental health struggles. 

What does it mean to have anxiety and still be high achieving?

Let’s start off by discussing the basics of anxiety. The most prevalent mental health disorders among college and university students are anxiety disorders. These cause overwhelming feelings of fear and worry.

Being diagnosed with anxiety usually refers to generalized anxiety disorder. GAD is characterized by pervasive feelings of uncertainty and distress, even if there isn’t a cause.

Common anxiety symptoms include restlessness, heightened irritability and sleep problems. It can also cause physical health issues such as gastrointestinal issues, tense muscles and headaches. But signs of high-functioning anxiety are usually completely psychological, including:

  • Self-criticism and self-doubt
  • Fear of letting others down
  • Feeling a sense of dread or impending doom
  • Fear of failure

One of the major reasons why this type of anxiety goes unnoticed is because these symptoms often lead to high rates of educational and professional success. Feeling pressure to make people proud and refusing to fail can lead to unhealthy degrees of perfectionism and a lack of work-life balance.

Addressing high-functioning anxiety in college and university students

If you have any level of anxiety, it should be addressed so that you can receive the proper support and resources. The goal of addressing anxiety is to help you develop the tools and strategies you need to alleviate your internal struggle with fears and low self-esteem.

Individuals with anxiety can often feel very alone in managing their anxiety and while trying to remain functioning in their daily life. Therapy both individual and in a group, can allow someone to feel less alone in their struggles. In therapy, individuals would work on understanding the triggers for their anxiety and strategies to decrease their anxiety. By talking through those thoughts with a licensed clinical therapist, you can learn coping strategies to reduce your symptoms. You’ll also improve your overall mindset.Lightfully U incorporates a process-based therapy, or PBT, model into a Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program. The vIOP helps college and university students with mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders. PBT is carried out through psychotherapy during virtual one-on-one, group and family sessions. 

Process-based therapy treats you as a whole person, not just your anxiety. It focuses on improving your core processes that are at the root of your anxiety, such as difficulty with relationships and thoughts. It utilizes integrated interventions such as:

  • Values clarification
  • Mindful intervention
  • Motivational enhancement
  • Relational interventions

Why you should treat high-functioning anxiety

Even though someone is still high achieving with school, or athletics or socially, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need support and treatment. It’s important to acknowledge the role that your mental health disorder plays in your life. You should continuously work toward improving your mental, emotional and behavioral health.

By addressing and treating anxiety through psychotherapy, you can gain benefits such as:

  • Determining the root causes behind your anxiety
  • Learning relaxation techniques
  • Changing your perception of potential triggers
  • Developing healthy coping mechanisms
  • Improving communication about your anxious thoughts
  • Defining your sense of self

Lightfully U can help college and university students address anxiety

Recognizing that you have any severity of a mental health disorder can throw you for a bit of a loop, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Acknowledging that you have anxiety symptoms is an important step in your mental health journey. 

With process-based therapy in Lightfully U’s Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program, you can address your symptoms. You can learn skills to alleviate your negative thoughts that affect every aspect of your life.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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