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Anxiety emerges as key mental health issue on campus, in workplace
Recent research into the prevalence of anxiety disorders underscores the need for businesses and colleges alike to take people's suffering seriously. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
Americans appear to be more anxious than ever, according to two new studies on the prevalence of anxiety disorders on colleges campuses and in the workforce.

Researchers from the Center for Collegiate Health at Penn State University found that more than half of students visiting campus clinics say anxiety is disrupting their studies. "Anxiety has now surpassed depression as the most common mental health diagnosis among college students," The New York Times reported in its coverage of the research.

In the working world, the disorder's scope is just as overwhelming. According to a recently released data summary from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, around 4.3 million full-time workers suffered from serious anxiety in the past year.

SAMHSA estimated that nearly 13 million American adults overall struggle with an anxiety disorder. In spite of the large number of people affected, many people find it difficult to explain their struggles to others and to ask for help, as The Huffington Post noted.

Like many mental health disorders, anxiety affects each sufferer differently, and often involves "excessive, irrational fear and dread," according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Individuals must work with their doctors to find the best treatment plan.

This complex process becomes even more complicated when employers or teachers fail to recognize the seriousness of a problem, because of misconceptions about what anxiety disorders entail or fears of being taken advantage of by lazy workers, as the Times noted.

"Students who suffer from this acute manifestation (of anxiety) can feel their very real struggles are shrugged off, because anxiety has become so ubiquitous, almost a clich, on campus," the Times reported.

Although the needs of people with anxiety disorders change depending on their environment, mental health experts emphasized the need for open communication and flexibility, whether in the workplace or on campus.

"Employers, unions, educators, health providers and all segments of the community need to work together so that we can help people surmount the challenges of anxiety disorders and lead full, productive lives," said SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hyde to The Huffington Post.

In general, anxiety disorders are treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy, the NIMH reported. With proper support, people can learn to manage their fears and cope with their busy lives in the office or on campus.
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