As a GP I really like it when a student comes to see me about their anxiety. Not only because it means they are keen to get help and get better, but also because there are so many things we can offer to ease their symptoms. In the last few years, here at Students’ Health Service, we have tried really hard to provide a variety of treatment options for what is the commonest mental health problem that we see; anxiety.
Anxiety affects people differently (about 1 in 20 people will have it at some time), but in general it makes you feel afraid and tense. It can lead to physical symptoms, as your adrenaline rushes around more than usual. People complain of palpitations (fast heart beat), sweating, nausea (feeling sick), chest pains, and shaking. You can also get headaches, and feel out of breath. It can be normal to feel like this, eg before an exam, but when it starts to interfere with everyday life it can become very challenging. Some people get panic attacks, where the symptoms feel overwhelming, and it can feel like the world is closing in on you, or that you might die. Please ask for help if this is happening. Ideally, please see a GP before it gets this bad.
So what can we offer you?
A variety of psychological (talking based) therapies are available. Relaxation techniques and Mindfulness can be learnt, and the Student Counselling Service provides very regular groups. Just sign up on their website.
Self Hypnosis has been shown to be effective, and a GP can refer you for this; a one off free session provided by Matt Edwards in a confidential environment. Here is a blog written by a student who saw Matt last year;
I tried self hypnosis for my anxiety! You could too… a student writes…
Online CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is available for those who would prefer this method; sign up via the SCS website.
Free NHS groups, and 1 to 1 therapy are accessed via the LIFT Psychology service; no GP referral required, just contact them on
However, if psychological approaches are not enough, or might take too long and your symptoms are too challenging to manage daily, then medication can be extremely helpful, and can work within a few days of starting it. Any of the GPs will be happy to discuss this option with you.
So remember, anxiety is normal and common, but sometimes it can become overwhelming or a daily stress, so get help and talk to us soon!