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I'm the mother of a college student with Anxiety and Panic attacks
Gratus posted:
I would like advice about what more I can do for my daughter. She is attending college (an amazing feat for her...imagine the difficulties she had to overcome just to take admittance exams and actually walk into a classroom alone) but every new test is a new trial, every assignment a new source of anxiety. " What if I fail?" she asks me almost every day. I do my best to be supportive. Sometimes she just needs to let off steam, I know that. But is there something more I can be doing? Something more constructive? Please help.
Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
College is a stressful time for any student, but especially so for a student who wants to do well but questions their abilities. The freshman year is probably the most stressful of all and, for that reason, most colleges if not all, have freshman orientation and make available counselors for freshmen. These counselors provide access to study skills, tutors, counseling and whatever the student needs in order to feel comfortable and to do their best. It is something to be explored at your daughter's school.

I think you need to tell your daughter that, if she does her best, that is all that can be expected. If she has problems in a class or with an exam or a paper, the thing to do is to speak to the instructor privately. If she has had a history of anxiety in school prior to going to college, perhaps she is qualified for special consideration. I taught at a college for many years and we did have a number of students who needed this consideration in terms of taking their tests at a different time and in a special room or even taking their tests in a different manner. One student required that her tests be administered verbally to her and that was done.

I do have a Study Skills page on my website ( and I would encourage you to go there with her and see which of the links might be helpful. I would also suggest that you watch the relaxation breathing video tutorial we have on my Videos page and use that technique several times a day. It's intended to keep anxiety in check and should be used before the anxiety becomes so heightened that it can be quite upsetting.

I think also that you and your daughter might speak to the counselor at school so that you will know what you can do at home and the three of you can work together on a plan to help your daughter be successful in school.

I hope she does well and that these suggestions are helpful.
Gratus replied to Patricia Farrell, PhD's response:
Thank you for the advice. I will certainly check out the study skills page and relaxation video. As far as the school helping her, though, I'm afraid that our experience there has been quite excrutiating. Not only were the "disabilities" people unhelpful, they actually laughed at my daughter and denied there was anything they could do or that any teacher had to do to accomodate her anxiety. We had a letter from her doctor and everything. It was humiliating to her and I was just furious.

It seems that some people, even so-called professionals, will not admit that there is such a thing as anxiety and panic disorders. So, we've struggled through this on our own without help from the college.
rohvannyn replied to Gratus's response:
If there is an obmudsman or other official at the college in charge of services for disabled folk, I encourage you to let them know what happened. You and your daughter deserve to be treated with respect. Being laughed at is not acceptable when you are bringing up a concern. If there is no one at the college, then look for state and local officials, or perhaps the ADA. You don't have to put up with that kind of treatment. It's awesome that you are being so proactive to get help for your daughter, as well as teaching her how to help herself.
Gratus replied to rohvannyn's response:
I'll look into that. We're coming up on finals now, when her anxiety is at its worst. Once we get past that, we can look again to see about accomodations. Thank you for the idea.
Cjack1990 responded:
this is was my counsler said to me anytime I would mention failing.

"So what if you fail? You get up and you try again."

I repeated it in my head over and over and over to where I would say "yeah, so what if I fail?" And it took the stress off. Not that she should think that and not study or anything, no no no. It might help release some of that stress of the test taking and homework.

I'm very proud of her! I have actually dropped out of high school 4 years ago and got my GED 3 years ago, and I'm terrified of going back to school.
Cjack1990 replied to Gratus's response:
In high school I had a note from my doctor also and I had this thing where I would drive around until my anxiety would go away...
The attendance officer told me that kids with "real" problems know how to get to school on time.

I feel your frustration and your daughters hurt.

Keep reminding her that she does have a real problem and not to let those jerks get to her.

Better yet, maybe you could get the doctor to call them and have a little word in? That would be quite interesting.

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