With school comes stress, and many students, especially those who suffer from anxiety disorders, are finding it hard to keep their cool during final exams.
Katie Brick, a 24-year-old University of Memphis student who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, is one of about 40 million adults in the United States with an anxiety disorder. In fact, anxiety disorders like Brick’s are one of the most common mental health problems on college campuses today, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
“Hey, I have this thing, it’s called anxiety. It’s not bad, I’m not crazy, but sometimes I get so overwhelmed and sometimes I can’t breathe and it’s just something about me that if you love me, you have to deal with,” Brick said.
Brick’s parents first realized she might have anxiety when she was a baby and had trouble breathing. “I had to have a breathing machine, and they couldn’t find a medical reason why,” Brick said. “I was a really scared and shy kid. But I was diagnosed when I was 11 when we were gonna go on a family trip to Disney World, and I told my parents I wouldn’t go because I didn’t want to get on a plane.”
Anxiety disorders like Brick’s are highly treatable with the right medications, but only about one-third of those suffering actually receive treatment, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Anxiety affects people differently and at different points in their lives.
Marianne Spengler, a 35-year-old assistant manager at BrownDog Lodge, struggles with separation anxiety disorder. “It feels like you can’t breathe and you just panic,” Spengler said.
Anxiety disorders typically begin during childhood, but symptoms can carry over into adulthood, like in her case. Spengler said she deals with her anxiety on a daily basis, and her anxiety has caused strain on her relationships in the past.
Brick and Spengler are both vocal about their experiences with anxiety in hopes that they can help others who also suffer from similar issues.