Anxiety Students' Guide for Academics

What if I fail? A small problem seems like a catastrophe.

How Anxiety Affects Me

  • I find it really hard to concentrate or feel at ease when I am anxious about something
  • I often sit during a lecture and can only concentrate for half an hour maximum. Anything taught after that would make no sense to me at all
  • I have to go home and restudy the same lecture discussed in the University as I hardly remember anything
  • I need to study a lecture 3 to 4 times to understand anything. For this reason, it takes twice the time for me to complete a lecture than an average student.
  • Listening to a lecture recording after a lecture is not possible for me due to my slow pace of learning. Listening to one hour lecture will take me around four hours.
  • I am affected the most during exam period. Generally, everyone feels worried or concerned during exams. However, I start getting nervous from the date exam timetables are released, which is a month before. I get more slow in studies during that period and it feels like I will fail all my exams.
  • Even though I am prepared and know the subject content, there is always a question in my mind, “What if I fail?” A small problem seems like a catastrophe.
  • The whole experience weighs me down and I feel like I cannot accomplish anything. It feels like a never ending battle.
Students sitting an exam in Wilson Hall
"I am affected the most during exam period."

What is anxiety?

What causes anxiety?

  • Family history of mental health problems
  • Ongoing stressful events
  • Physical health problems
  • Substance use
  • Personality factors

Types of Anxiety

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Social phobia
  • Specific phobia
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Strategies to overcome anxiety

There are many health professionals and services available in University to help with anxiety information, treatment and support. In addition, people with anxiety can do many things to help themselves.

  • Psychological treatments for anxiety

    Psychological treatments (talking therapies) have been found to be an effective way to treat anxiety. It helps a person to share their problems and concerns without having a feeling of being judged. This not only helps a person to recover, but can also prevent a recurrence of anxiety.

  • Medical treatments for Anxiety

    Research shows that psychological therapies are the most effective in helping people with anxiety. However, if symptoms are severe, some medical treatments may be helpful.

  • Staying well and healthy

    As well as getting treatment underway, one has to find new ways to manage, and live with, the changes and challenges of having depression and anxiety. One needs to incorporate healthy eating and regular exercise in their daily routine. In addition, avoiding alcohol and use of illicit drugs can reduce the symptoms of anxiety considerably.

Advice to Academics about Students Suffering from Anxiety

  • There isn't much that Academics can do to help students suffering from anxiety. Students are the best curer of themselves as they know and can feel the effect of anxiety.

Advice to Students Suffering from Anxiety

  • Based on past experiences, students should seek help or speak to someone if something is troubling them. It is quite difficult to identify the symptoms of anxiety. I realised about it when my grades deteriorated and I was asked to meet the Course Unsatisfactory Progress Committee (CUPC).
  • There are various help provided by the University for students suffering from anxiety. One just needs to seek for it. In my case, Alternative Exam Arrangement (AEA) provided by Disability Liaison Unit (DLU) was the biggest help I could ask for as it helped me to graduate.
  • Speak to a counsellor as they know various ways to combat anxiety issues.

Further Reading

About this Guide

This Guide has been written by University of Melbourne students.

It is intended to provide academics with a student perspective on how their condition affects their studies at the University.