Wednesday, December 2, 2020

College heightens fears

College campuses can trigger stress and anxiety, leading to many fears or phobias through added responsibilities, new social experiences and being away from family.

Spiders, snakes and heights are just the top three fears around the world, according to FearOf.net, a website dedicated to identifying, naming and helping to cure phobias. These phobias are referred to as “specific phobias” because they include fear of a certain object or situation.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America said more than 19 million people have a specific phobia, most beginning in childhood and persisting through adult life.

PSUC business administration major Mike Dorato said he has a fear of heights, which falls into the category of those with acrophobia.
“Heights are my biggest fear. I don’t know why, but they scare the hell out of me,” Dorato said.

The website published a list titled “Top 100 Phobias List”, which lists many fears that college students may run into on a college campus.

The well known claustrophobia ranked at number seven on the list. This is the fear of small spaces — the opposite of agoraphobia. These small spaces can be seen on college campuses in dorm rooms, elevators and crowded hallways.

Nearly 5 percent of Americans suffer from claustrophobia, and in an article titled “22 Fascinating Claustrophobia Statistics,” it may be hereditary, according to healthresearchfunding.org.

“Sometimes kids with a parent who has claustrophobia may also end up becoming claustrophobic themselves by associating confined spaces with the adult’s anxiety and with a feeling helpless to comfort the parent they love,” the site said.

Living in residence halls on a college campus, students are responsible for cleaning their room and practicing personal hygiene on a regular basis. Sometimes, bathrooms aren’t the cleanest spaces because they are shared by all students in the hall. While most students generally avoid having to clean such messes, there is a specific phobia of germs called mysophobia.

PSUC sociology major Susanna Wuttke said catching athlete’s foot in the shower is on her list of fears.

Severe cases of mysophobia can lead to, and are often associated with Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, or OCD. Those with mysophobia and OCD may feel compelled to wash their hands frequently or clean sheets, desks and other surfaces at every chance. Mysophobia ranked at number eight on Fear Of’s list.

About 75 percent of people have some sort of anxiety regarding public speaking. It is considered to be a subset of social phobia, or the fear of social situations, according to about.com’s health page.

PSUC Journalism and Public Relations Lecturer Nora Montanaro said students are more likely to be afraid of what they do not know, rather than public speaking itself. She said the key to controlling the fear is by practicing the delivery of speech standing up and speaking out loud.

“It is important to teach effective public speaking to students. It is the No. 1 skill employers are looking for today: communication skills,” she said.

Montanaro said there is nothing wrong with having anxiety over public speaking. It shows how important the topic is to the person.

As a freshman or transfer student, it may be hard to make new friends when joining a college campus. Students may begin to feel lonely or isolated from others if they have a hard time socializing.

Monophobia is defined by AnxietyCare.org, a non-profit company that specializes in helping recover from anxiety disorders, as “an acute fear of being alone and having to cope without a specific person, or perhaps any person, in close proximity.”

This is a more complex issue than sitting alone in a dining hall or attending campus events by oneself, which can be instances of social anxiety.

While this phobia is usually centered on being without a certain person, the phrase “being alone” can mean a number of different things to different people.

Another fear college students could have is atychiphobia, which is the fear of failure.

With the passing of midterm’s week, some students across campus were flocking to the library and study groups. Other students pulled countless all-nighters, filling out study guides and index cards to make sure their midterm grades were satisfactory.

For most, the worrying feeling of failure subsides, and they go back to their carefree ways. Those who really suffer from atychiphobia often turn down promotions at work, invitations to gatherings and dates because of their extreme fear of failing. They may often worry about not only failing themselves but failing friends and family, as well.

Most of these phobias can be treated with a variety of methods, including therapy or medication. At PSUC, the Student Health and Counseling Center offers counseling for students who feel as though they may be suffering from any of these phobias.

Email Marissa Russo at marissa.russo@cardinalpointsonline.com

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