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The Debilitating Burden of Anxiety: A Case Study

Health Education

Professor Moore

Pasadena City College

Felisha Hatch

June 10, 2018

The Debilitating Burden Of Anxiety: A Case Study

Do you remember the excitement, the joy, the sadness, and the anxiety when you first left

home? What happens when that anxiety becomes unmanageable? Self-esteem and self-efficacy

are the foundations for healthy coping mechanisms. This is a case study about how anxiety has

become a burden for a freshman named, Katya.

The Case Study

Katya is a hardworking student. She spends hours studying and making passing grades.

She has a three point grade average and believes she is a failure because her anxiety becomes out

of control before her exams. Now it is time for the big Chemistry test and she has to do well.

Research has found that stress can decrease academic performance (Ahmed & Julius, 2015).

Stress can decrease Katya grades which are essential to maintaining her scholarship. This

demand for a passing grade has caused her to experience a panic attack during studying. Katya

has two days to overcome this adversity. What will she do?

My Personal Experience

Years ago, I can remember leaving home for the first time. I left home with a toddler

while I was just learning how to depend on myself. I did this while navigating new and

unfamiliar surroundings. Similar to Katya, I had doubts in my ability to succeed which lead to

increased anxiety. I felt a sense of inadequacy leading to low self esteem and decreased self

efficacy. I felt it would be horrible to fail myself or my son. I believed I would lose everything

just like Katya felt she would lose her scholarship. The burden of belief in failure made my life

more difficult than it should of been . This leads to anxiety. This anxiety then leads to

inappropriate coping mechanism which initiates a vicious cycle of self doubt and panic.

Persistent anxiety can inhibit one's ability to function. Generalized anxiety is a

continuous state of worry while a panic attack occurs more spontaneously. Katya panic attack

can cause increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and difficulty thinking. Katya intense fear of

failure has lead to her panic attack from a lack of self-esteem and decreased self-efficacy which

should be addressed with appropriate interventions.

Individual and group counseling

Katya should participate in individual and group counseling sessions to teach her

numerous new tools for coping. The appropriate coping mechanisms with stress will decrease

her anxiety. During individual sessions a psychologist can investigate if there is a more serious

underlying source such as trait anxiety. Research from the Indian Journal of Health has found

that college students with test anxiety have a higher instance of trait anxiety (Dixit & Thingujam,

2015). It would be better for her to receive any needed help now. Prolonging help would

decrease her quality of life and it can become detrimental to her future success. Support within a

group therapy session will help her find support among her peers. Having someone to talk to that

can relate to your fears is comforting for students. This is a result of college students not feeling

that they are alone or strange since in recent research, “ Group counselling was useful in

normalizing common stress of change gradually” (Mishra & Rath, 2015, p. 863).

Increasing Resilience

Resilience is how well we cope or react to positive or negative stressors. Everytime we

react appropriately from a stressor our resilience is improved. This trait is developed over time.

Katya needs to increase her resilience through positive experiences with stress. Breathing
techniques, meditation, and relaxing activities will help her deal with her stress. Each positive

experience with test taking will build onto the next decreasing anxiety. Research done of 446

community college women found that there was a predicted relationship between resilience

anxiety and academic performance (Ahmed & Julius, 2015). Using her new coping mechanisms

learned during individual and group counseling will help her increase this positive attribute and

decrease her anxiety.


Through early interventions and support anxiety can be tackled before it can produce

unfavorable outcomes in our lives. These unfavorable outcomes can cycle into a debilitating

burden of anxiety. The appropriate interventions can lay down the foundation for healthy coping

mechanism while managing the underlying cause of panic. Our resilience increases with time

and experience as each new stressor are faced with the appropriate learned skills. Focusing on a

self creating cycle of anxiety is futile since, “Anxiety is like a rocking chair. It gives you

something to do, but doesn’t get you far.”(, 2018).


Ahmed, Z. & Julius, S. H. (2015). Academic Performance, Resilience, Depression, Anxiety

and Stress among Women College Students. ​ Indian Journal of Positive Psychology​, 6

(4), 367-370​.

Dixit, A. L. & Thingujam, N. S. (2015). Test Anxiety of Twelfth Standard Students: Is it Related

to Study Habits, Self-Esteem, and Trait Anxiety?​ Indian Journal of Health and

Wellbeing​, 6(12), 1174-1176​. (2018). ​Anxiety quotes​.[online] Available at: https://​

quotes/tag/anxiety [Accessed 9 June, 2018]

Mishra, N. & Rath, P. K. (2015). Impact of Intervention on Perceived Stress of College

Students. ​Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing​, 6(9), 859-864​.