Rhiannon asked via email:
“I am 18 years old and will be starting college in the next few weeks. I also suffer from panic attacks. So you can see how these two don’t exactly mesh well together. For the past year I’ve had my panic attacks basically under control with a 5mg of lexapro and positive thinking. As my college move in date gets closer my panic attacks appear to be back with a vengeance and my mom is scared I’m not going to be handle college. And I have to admit, at this point I’m unsure myself. I am getting pretty desperate for any advice you may have to help me get my panic attacks back under my control. Anything is much appreciated.”
Congratulations for reaching out. Well it makes sense that the panic is back- you are under a tremendous amount of stress. Starting college is one of the major milestones in life. It is the first time you are living on your own and comes with a lot of responsibility, as you know.
In addition to all the feelings of college anxiety, you may also be having separation anxiety from the thought of living away from home.
First things first. Let’s try to do something about the panic attacks. Since you already manage your anxiety with Lexapro, I am assuming you are under a doctor’s care. It might be a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss the recent bouts of panic and anxiety. You may want to consider short term anti anxiety medication
It goes without saying that all medications must be prescribed by a licensed physician and taken exactly as prescribed. I know what it’s like to be so consumed with anxiety that you can barely function. And if you are considering not going to college because of this, well I think that may be all the more reason to get some relief short term.
Anti anxiety medication, when used correctly, can be a real blessing and really help you get through a rough time. This may or may not be for you, but it is definitely something you can consider.
Now pull out all the stops and put every anxiety self help tool you can to use. Let’s go:
You say you use positive thinking. Good girl- Keep it up! Here are some positive affirmations for anxiety that can help you. Practice them morning and night, or as often as you need to.
You might try keeping a journal for coping with anxiety. This can help you get a better perspective of how you’re feeling and how you might approach specific situations coming up. Things like going to class, hanging with your new roommate, meeting new freinds, navigating the campus, etc. You can measure your progress too.
It sounds like you have a supportive mom- that is wonderful. Keep the lines of communication open. She may not understand exactly what you are going through, but she loves you and can support you. Let her.
How are your other friends dealing with going away? Most kids have college anxiety, even if not to the degree of panic attacks. So talk about what’s bugging you to your freinds. You will be amazed at what opening up and sharing about your anxiety can do. You don’t have to go into all the gory details, but you can share about your worries in a general sense and this may help you to realize you are so not alone.
Also, just about every college or university will have a student counseling center that can help you deal with these issues too. Call your college and ask about it . You could even ask if you can arrange an appointment for soon after you move in, so you can talk with someone confidentially.
Since you have controlled your anxiety and panic attacks successfully in the past, I am confident you can also control it during this stressful time too. It is something you are living through and it is hard, but you are an amazing and intelligent young lady. Do not lose faith in yourself. You will get through this! 🙂
Anyhow, I hope this helps with your college anxiety. I wish you the best of luck and much, much happiness on this most wonderful journey!! Please let me know how it goes! 🙂
ps. Here are some more free Anxiety Tips and Help.