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Student Concerns & Symptoms of Distress

Student Concerns

Stress is a normal part of college life. While many students cope with the demands of college successfully, a significant number of students have difficulties that interfere with their performance. Studies on the incidence of emotional distress among college students predict that at least 10% of the student body suffer from discernible emotional problems such as depression, acute anxiety, substance abuse, and other more serious mental health concerns. According to our records for the past two years, 18% of students at some time in their college career have sought counseling at the Counseling Center.

An even greater number of students experience developmental problems in adjusting to college life and adulthood, such as establishing identity, relating to others, and identifying educational and career goals. Many first-year students in particular may struggle with leaving home, adjusting to college, making friends, and effectively managing their time. Consider these symptoms of distress as indicators that a student may be in need of support. 

Symptoms of Distress

Academic Performance

  • Poor academic performance and preparation, particularly if such behavior represents a change in previous functioning; 
  • Excessive absences or tardiness, especially if such behavior represents a change in previous functioning and;
  • Repeated requests for special considerations

Unusual Behavior

  • Listlessness, lack of energy, or falling asleep in class; 
  • Disruptive, aggressive or threatening behavior; 
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene; 
  • Impaired speech or disjointed, confused thoughts; 
  • Extreme mood changes; 
  • Hyperactivity, irritability, or heightened anxiety; 
  • Dramatic weight loss or weight gain; 
  • Bizarre or strange behavior indicating a loss of contact with reality and; 
  • Use of mood-altering chemicals (e.g., alcohol, "uppers", marijuana, amphetamines)

Traumatic Change in Relationships

  • Death of family member or close friend; 
  • Difficulties in marriage or close relationships and; 
  • Problems at home with family or roommates

Concerns About Suicide

  • Expressing thoughts or feelings of taking their own life
    • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself; 
    • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; 
    • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person;
    • Feelings of hopelessness, rage, anger, or revenge seeking; 
    • Feeling trapped, like there is no way out 
    • Experiencing dramatic mood changes and;
    • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life
  • Engaging in behaviors that indicate risk to self or others
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities seemingly without thinking;
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use;
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society;
  • Appearing anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time;

Please call the Counseling Center (410-617-5109) if you are concerned about a student.  We can help you plan your next steps.

Contact Us

Humanities, Room 150
One flight up the turret entrance
Phone: 410-617-CARE (2273)

Call to schedule an appointment
Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.


REACT Online

REACT is an online video that explains how to help yourself or someone you care about cope in healthy ways after a distressing life event (such as a trauma, assault, or loss).