Social anxiety disorder is one of the most common forms of anxiety – roughly 1 in 10 individuals in the US report experiencing problematic social anxiety at some point in their life (Ruscio et al., 2008). Commonly feared social situations include public speaking, participating in meetings/classes, having one-on-one or group conversations, and expressing opinions or disagreement. – Boston University
Social anxiety and test anxiety are common challenges faced by college students across the United States, including those in Massachusetts. Let’s explore these issues in the context of college campuses in Massachusetts:
- Prevalence: Social anxiety, also known as social phobia, is characterized by an intense fear of social situations and interactions. It is relatively common among college students in Massachusetts, as it is in other parts of the country. Studies suggest that around 15% of college students experience social anxiety symptoms.
- Impact: Social anxiety can have a significant impact on a student’s academic and social life. It may lead to isolation, difficulty in making friends, and avoidance of class or campus events.
- Resources: Massachusetts colleges and universities typically offer resources to help students manage social anxiety. These may include counseling services, support groups, and workshops on social skills and anxiety management. Boston University has group classes available to students. Check them out online here!
Treatments for Social Anxiety:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a highly effective treatment for social anxiety. It helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with social anxiety. Exposure therapy, a component of CBT, involves gradually facing feared social situations to build confidence and reduce anxiety.
- Medications: In some cases, medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or benzodiazepines may be prescribed to manage the symptoms of social anxiety. These are typically used in conjunction with psychotherapy.
- Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can help individuals manage anxiety symptoms. These techniques promote relaxation and self-awareness.
- Prevalence: Test anxiety is a specific form of anxiety related to academic performance, particularly during exams. It affects a substantial portion of college students in Massachusetts.
- Impact: Test anxiety can hinder a student’s ability to perform well on exams, leading to lower grades and increased stress. It may manifest as physical symptoms such as nausea, sweating, and racing thoughts.
- Resources: Colleges and universities in Massachusetts provide resources to address test anxiety. These may include academic support centers that offer test-taking strategies, relaxation techniques, and time management skills to help students cope with exam-related stress.
Treatments for Test Anxiety:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT can also be effective for managing test anxiety. It helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns related to test-taking and provides strategies to cope with anxiety during exams.
- Relaxation Techniques: Learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization can help reduce test anxiety. These techniques can be practiced before and during exams.
- Time Management Skills: Effective time management can reduce anxiety related to exam preparation. Creating a study schedule, breaking down study materials into manageable chunks, and avoiding last-minute cramming can be helpful.
- Practice Tests: Taking practice tests or quizzes under conditions similar to the actual exam can desensitize individuals to test-related stress and improve confidence.
- Healthy Lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep can positively impact overall stress levels and, consequently, test anxiety.
- Medications: In some cases, a healthcare provider may prescribe medications, such as beta-blockers, to manage physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat and trembling, during exams.
Ketamine Therapy for Student Anxieties
Ketamine therapy can serve as an advanced treatment for anxiety where the above solutions do not help symptomatology. Ketamine assisted treatments are a popular option among students because they do not involve taking long-term medications like antidepressants. Ketamine treatments are relatively short-term and patients feel an impact after their first session. Every patient is unique and should be evaluated separately but typically patients receive six ketamine treatments over the span of a month and a half. If needed, after their initial series of six treatments, patients can return for booster treatments as often as needed.