Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Students

Teens and college students can easily feel anxious trying to juggle school, work, friends, and family while trying to figure out the rest of their life.

According to the ADAA and the APA

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  • 20% of college students say they feel stressed “most of the time.”
  • 80% of college students say they sometimes or often feel stressed.
  • 34% of college students report feeling depressed at least at one point within the last 90 days.
  • About half of surveyed college students felt overwhelmed with anxiety at least once within the last 12 months.


Stress is the body’s reaction to a challenge. The right kind of stress can sharpen the mind and reflexes. It might be able to help the body perform better, or help you escape a dangerous situation. The wrong kind of stress can be crippling, preventing you from completing even the simplest of tasks.

Stress produces a physical reaction in your body. These reactions can include slowed digestion, shaking, tunnel vision, faster breathing and heart rate, dilation of pupils, and flushed skin. You might also notice a lack of focus, inability to concentrate, easily distracted, trouble with problem solving, irritability, and frustration.


Anxiety is a general term that can cover several different types of disorders. All of them share the common symptoms of nervousness, worry, fear, and apprehension. Sometimes the emotional feelings can be so overwhelming that they create physical symptoms like pain, nausea, headaches, and more. People with anxiety often experience a rapid heartbeat, sweating, trouble sleeping, an inability to concentrate, shortness of breath, fidgeting, fatigue, and others.

Stress and anxiety can share some of the same primary physical symptoms such as a pounding heart, rapid breathing, dilated pupils and muscle tension. The symptoms vary, but can overlap and some people are more susceptible to them than others. Some people stress when making ordinary daily decisions, such as, where to go, what to eat and what to buy and other people thrive and can be highly productive when driven by these forces of pressure.

The words are mostly used interchangeably but they are different experiences and you can have one without the other. Stressful feelings include frustration and nervousness and anxious feelings include fear, unease and worry. The key difference is that stress is a reaction to something that is happening now and is triggered by a specific situation. Anxiety is concern about something that may or may not happen in the future. Anxiety is also the stress that continues after the stressor is gone.


Depression is a common but serious illness that leaves you feeling despondent and helpless, completely detached from the world. It can interfere with life, making important everyday tasks such as working, studying, sleeping, and eating difficult.

Depression is a medical condition that can affect a student's ability to work, study, interact with peers, or take care of themselves. Symptoms of depression may include: difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, appetite changes, withdrawing from participating in activities once enjoyed, feelings of sadness, hopelessness, unhappiness, and difficulty concentrating on school work. Symptoms of depression can also lead to thoughts of suicide or self harm.

Do You Need Help?

Feeling stress and anxiety is normal but they can manifest in different ways for each individual. For some people, it’s time to look for help when your feelings start to have a negative impact on everyday life and your ability to carry out daily routines or have normal relationships. For others, it is time to look for help when these thoughts and feelings prevent them from being able to focus and enjoy the important things in life. It can also be when their stress and anxiety are the only thing they can focus on, or when their thoughts and feelings begin to interfere with work or school.

Things You Can do Now

No matter where you are in the school journey, these tips can help you cope with and manage the stress that comes along with it.

  • GET PLENTY OF SLEEP.  Not getting enough sleep impairs academic performance and makes it harder to get through the day.
  • THINK POSITIVE.  Research has shown that positive thinking may improve physical well-being, produce lower feelings of depression and produce lower levels of distress.
  • HAVE A STRESS “OUTLET.”  This could be a social activity like going out or participating in intramural sports, finding a hobby or joining a social club.ENGAGE IN RELAXATION TECHNIQUES.  This can include things like slowly counting to ten, meditation, self-hypnosis, positive thoughts, visualization, or playing with a stress ball.
  • TALK TO SOMEONE.  Sometimes just talking about what’s stressful or having someone listen to your problems can drastically reduce stress.

Finding Help On Campus

Academic Issues - Your academic or student advisor can provide advice or guidance. The on-campus academic services office should be able to arrange a tutor or other extra academic help.

Substance Abuse - The student health center, counseling services center, or campus medical facility will have free and anonymous therapy or counseling services available.

Eating and Weight Management- The student health services and recreation/fitness center might have fitness experts or counselors to help you.

Time Management - The academic services office or student services office can point you in the right direction to more effectively manage your time.

Sexual Problems -The student health center can provide physical checkups and STD/STI screenings, as well as counseling for issues sexually active students may encounter.

Depression/Anxiety - In addition to the student health center, your school may have a counseling and psychiatric services center which can provide mental health services.

Health Concerns - Student health services are always available to answer any health questions you might have.

Finances - The financial aid office and student services center will have information and advice about managing money.

Housing Issues - Your resident advisor and student housing department will have procedures in place to deal with problems with roommates or living facilities.

Problems Relaxing - Many schools have a massage and/or physical therapy team which can provide services to help students unwind.

Homesickness, Family Issues and Bereavement - Counseling will be available in at least one, if not all, of the following organizations: student health services, counseling and psychiatric services center or student services center.

The Role of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is extremely effective in helping people eliminate stress and anxiety in their lives, and managing these symptoms makes everything else easier. Here are a few of the ways hypnosis can be helpful to students”

  • Decrease feelings of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression.
  • Create good, strong study habits - and make them permanent.
  • Eliminate procrastination and tune out distractions.
  • Increase Confidence and Self Esteem
  • Build test taking skills and confidence boosters that improve performance.
  • Improve accuracy in recalling previously studied information.
  • Prevent any blocks that cause the mind to blank or answer incorrectly when you know the information.

Self Hypnosis

Self hypnosis allows you to enter hypnosis on your own and give yourself suggestions. The more you practice self-hypnosis the better you become at it and the more powerful the results will be. Some common examples of suggestions for students are:

  • "Hearing the word 'quiz' or 'test' or 'exam' causes me to feel completely relaxed and at ease."
  • "My confidence increases the moment the exam beings and remains strong throughout the entire exam."
  • "I am relaxed and comfortable while taking a test."
  • "I easily retrieve information from my memory."

Hypnosis isn't a magic potion for getting perfect grades without trying. And it is not a substitute for medical treatment. It can help to relieve your symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. And it can help you to focus better, recall information more easily, and increase your confidence while taking exams.∎

If you or someone you know is in crisis or thinking of suicide, get help quickly.

  • Call your doctor.
  • Call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.
  • Call the toll-free 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).


Karen Gray is a Certified Hypnotist, a Registered Nurse, and the Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, contact Karen at, or (802) 566-0464.
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