Feeling anxious is a common experience that can be adaptive in small doses. For example, when you are facing the due date for a class project, anxiety motivates you to do the work so that you can finish it on time. However, anxiety that becomes disproportionate to your circumstances can be debilitating. Anxiety that interferes with academic or social functioning may require professional help.

Signs of Anxiety

Anxiety can manifest in physiological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms. These symptoms may be a cue to recognizing that you are feeling anxious. When these symptoms are impacting your ability to function, it may be indicative of an anxiety disorder and may be helpful to seek professional assistance.


  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Shaking
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Fatigue


  • Feeling out of control
  • Feeling apprehensive
  • Feeling uneasy
  • Fear
  • Irritable mood
  • Feeling overwhelmed


  • Avoid uncomfortable situations
  • Procrastinating
  • Excessive checking of behaviors
  • Use of alcohol, food, sex, etc. to cope
  • Compulsive behavior


  • Worry
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Racing thoughts
  • Mind going blank
  • Difficulty focusing

The Difference Between Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety is often confused with stress. Anxiety is a normal response to situations in which a person is overwhelmed with uncertainty, trouble, danger, and/or fear. We often experience anxiety as one or more of the symptoms listed above. Stress refers to the demands on our life (both good and bad) that can deplete our emotional, financial, time, and energy resources. In periods of significant stress, it is common to experience heightened anxiety. However, stress does not need to be present for an individual to experience anxiety.

Coping Skills

  • Try to get enough sleep, nutrition, and regular exercise.
  • Practice yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and relaxation exercises to reduce anxiety.
  • Set realistic expectations for yourself, and accept that you may not always meet those expectations.
  • Talk about your anxiety with people who care about you.
  • Accept that not everything is in your control, and let go of things outside your control.
  • Engage in positive and realistic thinking patterns based on objective facts rather than assumptions or fears.
  • Schedule time for relaxation, socializing, and fun!
  • Learn how to deal with criticism, and allow yourself to be imperfect.
  • Decrease your intake of caffeine, nicotine, or other stimulants, which can often increase anxiety.
  • Decrease your alcohol intake, which interferes with sleep.
  • Focus less on outcomes and more on your experience or what you are learning.
  • Engage in physical activity to help decrease anxiety.
  • Seek professional assistance through the Counseling Center or a mental health professional within the community.


  • The Counseling Center offers a number of services geared toward exploring, processing, and managing concerns with anxiety, including:
    • Short-term individual counseling.
    • Anxiety Clinic and Koru (Mindfulness) groups.
  • To schedule an appointment or for more information email the Counseling Center at counseling-center@iup.edu or call 724-357-2621.
  • Consider registering with the Department for Disability Access and Advising (D2A2) on campus to determine if accommodations for an anxiety disorder are available to you.