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How Do I Get Help for Social Anxiety at College?

Getting Help for Social Anxiety Disorder at College or University


Updated June 15, 2014

If you are struggling with social anxiety disorder (SAD) at college, it can be difficult to manage the everyday aspects of being a student, such as making new friends and attending classes. Below are some questions you may have about getting help for SAD while attending college.

Am I Alone?

A 2007 study by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America shows that students’ use of on-campus mental health services increased between 2004 and 2007 with 13% of students accessing these services. Chances are good that other students feel the same way that you do.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

If you have lived with the symptoms of SAD for several years, it may be hard to understand that your symptoms are a diagnosable illness that can be treated. If you have not already been diagnosed, a good place to start is to read about the symptoms of SAD and criteria for diagnosis.

How Will Having SAD Affect me at College or University?

From approaching professors to making new friends and initiating romantic relationships, much of campus life is social. If your SAD is left untreated, all aspects of your college experience may be affected.

Academics: You may find it hard to participate in class, ask questions, get help with homework, join study groups, give presentations, and approach professors.

Social Activities: You may be less likely to participate in clubs and sports, to initiate friendships or romantic relationships, and to stand up for yourself in difficult situations.

Alcohol Abuse: Students with severe SAD are at increased risk for developing problem drinking if alcohol is used as a coping strategy.

Where do I Get Help?

SAD is a highly treatable disorder with medication and/or therapy. As a student, you may have access to an on-campus mental health center. Often, these will be staffed with therapists, psychologists, or student interns, and will offer a variety of services such as individual and group therapy. Therapy is usually short term and may be free or available for a fee.

If your college or university does not have a mental health center, look for a medical center either on campus or in the community and ask for a referral to a mental health professional.

Another alternative is to investigate whether the psychology or psychiatry department at your school offers counseling or medication as part of ongoing research studies. Often, these types of studies are posted on the departments' websites. Participation is generally anonymous and they will assess your symptoms to ensure that the treatment are appropriate for your situation.

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