Your professor muttered the words you\’ve been dreading all week, “Alright class if you could please put your books away, we are now distributing and beginning the exam.” You can’t even focus – you\’re breaking your own concentration by the tapping of your pencil against your desk and the constant shaking of your leg. Wait. What is the definition of that again? What does it do? You\’re going to fail, you studied seven hours for nothing! Your thoughts have now shifted into panic mode. You\’re taken over by a butterfly sensation in your stomach and intense feelings of anxiety.
Everyone experiences anxiety, whether it’s a feeling of anxiety because there’s so much on your to-do list, because you’re about to go on a hot date, or because nothing really seems to be going right in your life. Students at MSU who have had these feelings or similar feelings have turned to places like the MSU Counseling Center to seek help. With the understanding that anxiety is not that uncommon of an issue, students who experience it, on minor or extreme levels, do not need to feel alone.
According to Professor and Counselor at MSU, David Novicki, only half of the student visitors have needed to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder while the other half have only been experiencing daily apprehension. Nervous sensations are going to take place, just as they do while taking tests. The best advice he gave was to not lose control and to live by the three F’s; Fight, Flight, or Freeze. There is an extent to which anxieties are taken to the next level. No longer can nerves be cured by pencil tapping, excessive gum chewing, or deep breathing. If dramatic attacks continue to occur, anxiety can be cured through medication, behavioral therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness Americans are faced with ranging in symptoms and episodes and including disorders such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Phobias. These anxiety disorders can impact a person’s life in various ways including the inability to concentrate on everyday things, damaging relationships with other people, creating feelings of hopelessness and can also lead to depression.
Taking a look at a sample questionnaire to determine whether someone should be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it could be assumed that the processes of getting medication for something as simple as test anxiety would be very easy, and it could also be argued that overmedicating and misdiagnosing students could be a possibility. Questions such “How often are you distracted by activity or noise around you?” and “How often do you feel restless or fidgety?” seemed pretty basic, and fairly common to rate. However, Novicki said the process went much farther than what is presented in the questionnaire.
It was explained that the questionnaire is the foundation to determine what the problem area may be. Once answering each question, there are follow-up questions that help determine which type of anxiety disorder might be the one indicated by the previous answer. Each question then leads to another branch of questions. After this process, there is a typical check-in with teachers, parents and other close relations, who may have noticed some abnormal behavior or may be able to pinpoint the problems a bit more.
“There is really not a lot of room for error in clinical judgment,” said Novicki. “Psychiatrists and clinical care doctors are concerned about people being over medicated – they don’t want them to get addicted.”
The prescriptions for anxiety disorders are carefully chosen and are not typically stocked with an abundance of medications. For example, if someone had a phobic disorder that involved riding on an airplane and the patient was scheduled for a flight, then a small dosage to calm the nerves for the flight would be appropriate.
Geography junior Ryan Nolen, diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder at the age of eight, explained that in order to receive his medications he has had to go to the doctors’ office for a check up once a month or else his prescription would not be refilled. “I haven’t been there for a check up in a while, so I haven’t been able to receive any medication,” said Nolen.
Other anxiety disorders are treated with SSRIs, antidepressants that raise the levels of serotonin in the system in order to work against depression and anxiety, and Ritalin and Adderall are common prescriptions since they are not addictive. Adderall, mainly prescribed for those suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is sometimes overly used, however not only by those who have a prescription but those who have used it as a study drug.
Veterinary junior Sarah Taylor explained that she has used Adderall in the past even though she has never been diagnosed with an anxiety order. According to Taylor, she uses the medication when she has a big project due or needs to study for a big exam. “It makes me focus on studying and helps me concentrate so I don’t daydream or think about other things,” explained Taylor.
Novicki said the idea of taking Adderall for motives other than working with a disorder would be an extremely bad idea, describing the effect as “counter-intuitive,” and explained that Adderall will in the end have a negative affect on those misusing the medication. “It goes both ways,” said Navicki. “I’m pretty confident in clinical judgments; however they are under diagnosed occasionally and sometimes diagnosed inappropriately.”
Apart from medications, counseling centers have been encouraging patients to confront the fearful situations that cause anxiety. Once a person can confront and have cognitive exposure, the medications can slowly be taken away before an addiction to the medication has time to occur. There are also options to avoid medication completely and instead focus solely on individual therapy.
For the most part the difference between anxiety and having an anxiety disorder has a fine line. Although anxiety can be considered a serious issue, Novicki said things such as so-called “test anxiety” could be caused by having poor preparedness, and there is a big difference between people who have a serious disorder and people who are stressed.
“If you’re prepared for the circumstances there is no reason to be so anxious under such circumstances. Everybody gets anxious and has anxiety.”

2 thoughts on “Anxiety Attack”

  1. Anxiety and depression is one hell of a nasty disease. even if you have everything but if you have clinical depression, you are still nothing.-:”

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