Anxiety in the Happy Valley: It’s more common than you think

Photo by Ann Li

This time of year always features the same routine of issues: schoolwork is stressful, it gets dark early, and most of us are counting down the days until we get to go home.

These are common stressors in our lives, but for some of us, they’re much more than just minuscule worries. A lot of young adults struggle with anxiety. Everyday things cause constant dwelling, overthinking and maybe even difficulty breathing.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80 percent of college students in a 2008 Associated Press mtvU survey say they often experience daily stress. Thirty-four percent claimed to have felt depressed at some point over the last three months, and 13 percent have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, which includes anxiety disorders and depression.

Clinical Social Worker and therapist Erin Daquelente, LCSW, believes that many things can cause college students to have anxiety, but it’s when the worries become constant that one should seek help.

“It is important to seek help before stress, anxiety or depression interferes with your daily functioning,” says Daquelente.

Anxiety is much more common than you may think. Many around you may be struggling with anxiety, without you even knowing. Valley wants you to know that you are NOT alone.

“If you experience multiple stressful events that cause worry or anxious thoughts, it will be helpful to seek out a therapist or counselor to talk to about the stressors and tools to that you can use to help reduce the symptoms,” says Daquelente.  “This doesn’t necessarily mean you have a serious mental health disorder. However, it is helpful for everyone to have someone in your life that can listen, validate and help teach you skills to manage the stress or anxiety.”

Seeking help can provide you with great ways to cope and handle anxiety.  Here are a few of the tools we recommend using when feeling anxious:

Take a deep breath

Taking a deep breath can really help when you are anxious. If you inhale and hold your breath for four seconds before slowly releasing it, this breath can physically calm down your body. A soothing breath can make a world of difference.

Write in a journal

When your thoughts are all consuming and never ending, grab a pen and a notebook and jot down why you feel so anxious. This stops your mind from excessively turning over that one stressing thought, and you might be able to find where your anxiety is stemming from. You are allowed to let go of what is making you worried and stress.

Practice yoga

It can be so hard to find time for yourself and for exercise in college. Yoga is a combination of both. It relaxes you and forces you to deep breathe, so the practice naturally calms your body. Not to mention, exercising produces endorphins, which boosts your happiness.

These tips are great for coping with your anxiety, but do not replace seeking professional help when it is needed. It is okay to get help, and you should never feel ashamed. A counselor or therapist can provide more tips that may be better suited for you. Penn State Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) are there to provide you with help. Find them at University Health Services, visit them online at or call them at 814-863-0395.

As the semester goes and you feel anxious, remember you are not alone. Take a deep breath and smile because you CAN overcome your anxiety.