Anxiety surpasses depression for students in university counseling center

Joshua Farmer

The latest “Stress in America” survey, an annual analysis by Harris Interactive for the American Psychological Association, shows that stress still hovers above healthy levels, especially for young adults, according to

In the past two years the level of anxiety in college students has surpassed the level of depression, said Dan Jones, the director of counseling and psychological services at Appalachian State.

“For 20 some years, depression was the number one presenting problem in counseling centers and for the past two years with this generation, anxiety has become more common than depression,” Jones said.

Jones said this has been reflected in the university’s counseling center, comparable to most universities and colleges.

Called Millennials, This generation’s higher stress levels could be contributed to parents, Jones said.

Jones said that through technology, Millennials could communicate with their parents several times a day, something that was not common in previous generations.

“The overall effect of this, it seems, is that kids who came through that time may not have learned to solve problems or take care of business and self-soothe and cope because their parents were doing so much for them that they didn’t get the time or opportunity to learn how to struggle and be uncomfortable,” Jones said.

Jones said there is a large demand to get into the best schools and the weak economy has had an impact on stress levels.

Students are also success-driven and want to be so successful they have unrealistic demands on themselves, which can lead to high levels of stress, Jones said.

Director of Student Health Services Dr. Bob Ellison said Health Services deals with students who are over committed and over stressed.

“It may adversely affect their quality of sleep their ability to find time to exercise or eat well,” Ellison said. “It affects relationships it can certainly impact how they are doing academically.”

Director of Health Leisure and Exercise Science David Neiman said there are also studies showing that not only are young adults stressed, but young adult women are stressed the most.

“Anxiety prevalence is twice as high [in females] as you’ll find in males [and] depression prevalence is twice as high,” Neiman said.

Neiman said that chronic stress, if not dealt with, can lead to a suppressed immune system because of an increase in stress hormones. This could lead to an increase in respiratory infections.

Neiman said the number one way to reduce stress is to not take on more than a student can handle.

Story: STEPHANIE SANSOUCY, Senior News Reporter