How Academic Stress Affects Mental Health

All students know for sure their study is accompanied by stressful situations. That is why they frequently need help writing college papers, in particular. Moreover, when it comes to exam sessions, dissertations, and tests, the intensity of physical and mental strain grows exponentially. It is normal for all the conflicts, efforts, sleepless nights, negotiations with professors, and other challenging things to cause a certain effect on the mental health of students.

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I mean, higher education is obviously a way to open many career and life paths, without a doubt. Those ways would be impossible for a person to choose and even consider without studying in college. But the amount of stress put on a student’s mind is enormous.

Regarding the serious impact of stress, it is useful for students (both current and future ones) to know more about it. That’s a frequent case for parents, relatives, friends, and even students themselves to underestimate the effect of stress on their health. Once again: academic activities are the synonym of stresses. Here below, you’ll find an in-depth look at nature, common reasons, and potential consequences of those stresses for students.

Academic Stress Factors

The reasons that make students feel stressed can be different. Here, we’ll mention only the most common factors. These are typical for the majority of students, especially first-year ones:

Environment Change

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Becoming a college student usually means the total change of environment, contacts, communicational patterns, and many other things in their life. That means a student’s “comfort zone” is entirely broken, and that is probably the strongest strike on any person’s mental state and health.

For instance, if a student is not ready for such things as the lack of control usually applied by parents and school teachers, the need to take care of their routine independently, the dormitory life, and so on, they have two possible ways to go. The first one is the activation of mental reserves, coming up with resilience, and gradual adjustment to new conditions. On the other hand, there always is a probability for a fresh student to get kicked off the road entirely. The latter makes them even more vulnerable to other negative factors.

Physical and Mental Strain

In addition to all sudden changes and discomfort, college studies mean a much higher level of requirements for a student to keep up with. For instance, college students need to process and memorize much more information than they used to do back in their school years. The intensity of classes is higher, too. Additionally, a student is obviously required to look for knowledge on their own. In case there arises a problem with a particular discipline, the risk of mental overload and exhaustion becomes even more dangerous.

The long-term emotional tension can easily turn into a chronic stress state. That’s a thing to avoid at all costs. Otherwise, a student might require qualified medical treatment.

Other Reasons

The factors mentioned above are the most common. However, there exist personal reasons that may be true for a particular student while not influencing the other one. The impact and number of such factors are direct consequences of everyone’s lifestyle. Personal reasons are:

  • Conflicts (with professors or other students)
  • Private life features
  • Not enough rest
  • Harmful habits (alcohol, smoking, etc.)
  • Irregular and imbalanced eating
  • Bad sleep

Stress Stages and Symptoms: How to Understand You Are Stressed

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It is relatively easy to know whether or not you are feeling stress. All you need to do is to control your state and track its changes. Regarding the stage of stress, symptoms may vary.

Stage: Alarm

Your mind reacts to stress sources with worrying. It’s a normal response to stresses that is a mark for the body to start playing defensively. Mostly, students don’t have problems detecting this stress stage.

Stage: Resistance

Your body is ready to deal with stress on its own. As a rule, the resistance stage does not cause worrying to continue, especially when a student feels the ability to solve the problem.

Stage: Exhaustion

This stage comes out on top when the stress factor stays with a person for a long time. Your body loses mental and physical resources. It becomes more challenging to stand against stress. As a result, stress suppresses a person entirely. Again, the third stage is easy to notice, just like the first one.


The effect of stress on a student depends on the stage and the intensity of its factor. Here are common symptoms:

  • Tiredness
  • Apathy
  • Distraction
  • Memory loss
  • Cognitive dysfunctions
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disorder
  • Headache
  • Bad appetite

As you might understand already, these and many other symptoms affect not only a student’s wellbeing but also their academic performance. Severe stresses always strike all body systems causing changes in a student’s life.

Consequences of Stress and Mental Overload for a Student

Academic stress and mental overload make it more difficult for a student to memorize new information and gain knowledge. Mentally tired students attend classes with less satisfaction, lose academic effectiveness, feel it much more challenging to prepare for every single exam, etc. Lack of sleep, irregular and imbalanced eating, and bad habits may make the situation become even worse.

Another important fact is that one’s body does not come back to normal shape instantly after the stress source disappears for whatever reason. Long-lasting mental tension takes a lot of time to fix its consequences. That’s why every student should monitor their mental health attentively to avoid overload and emotional exhaustion.



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