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Freshman

What is the ACL?

ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament. It is one of the main ligaments of the knee, and prevents the shin bone from sliding out in front of the thigh bone.

Symptoms of ACL injury

An injury to the ACL happens when the ligament is over-stretched or torn. A tear may be partial or complete. These injuries can occur if you:


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What is the Affordable Care Act?

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare or the ACA, is a law intended to reform the health care system and make health insurance more affordable. 


Picking the right shoe can be a daunting task for any runner.  Popular opinion about what type of footwear is best seems to change every few months.  Are neutral shoes actually better than supportive?  What about barefoot running?  What if you've been told that your feet pronate?


Legal in Washington but not on campus

Possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is legal in Washington State for those over the age of 21.  However, you may not smoke pot anywhere on the University of Washington campus.


How can I help a friend whose alcohol use may be harming them?

The most obvious signs that a friend has a drinking problem include:


2 students talkingSTIs (sexually transmitted infections), also known as STDs, are stigmatized in our society. We associate having an STI with being immoral or promiscuous. This may not be the case, but it still makes telling your current, former, or new partner about an STI difficult.

Why should I tell my partner?

If you think you may have exposed a partner to an STI or gotten an STI from your partner, you should tell them.


glass with ice and alcoholThe University of Washington has long been a leader in the development and evaluation of prevention programs and intervention efforts targeting risky alcohol use among college students. In fact, researchers at the Addictive Behaviors Research Center (ABRC) in the Department of Psychology and the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors (CSHRB) in

What is anxiety?

All of us are prone to feel some anxiety in our lives. But when anxiety affects our day to day functioning and enjoyment of life, it becomes an illness. Many people with anxiety disorder do not recognize it. You may have an anxiety disorder if you worry too much on most days for at least six months. Your anxiety may make it hard for you to live life normally. You might find it difficult to get a job, go to classes or make friends.

What are the symptoms of an anxiety disorder?broken, chewed pencil to show anxiety issues

The symptoms of an anxiety disorder can vary from person to person and can include the following:

  • Excessive worry and anxiety on an almost daily basis for 6 months or more.
  • An inability to control your worries.
  • The anxiety can be associated with other symptoms,  including restlessness, fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances. Some people also experience headaches and body pain with no medical explanation.
  • Panic attacks involving sweating, shaking, racing heart, shortness of breath,nausea, tightness in the stomach or jaw may also occur.
  • These symptoms can cause significant impairment in your ability to function.

How is anxiety diagnosed?

Many people with anxiety are embarrassed to tell their clinician about it. An anxiety disorder is commonly diagnosed by your medical or mental health provider by asking you questions about your symptoms. There are several rating scales or questionnaires that are used to diagnose anxiety, such as the one below.

 rating scale or questionnaire that isused to diagnose anxiety

If you scored higher than 5 on this self-assessment, you may want to consider talking to your health care or mental health provider about your symptoms.

What treatments are available for anxiety?

It is important to realize that the treatment of anxiety usually takes time. You may not be "cured," but your symptoms will subside and your quality of life will improve with treatment.  Treatment options include:

  • Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is highly effective for the treatment of anxiety. Cognitive therapy works by helping you understand and change the thoughts and behaviors that may contribute to anxiety.
  • Medications. Classes of drugs called anti-depressants, Beta-blockers and anti-psychotics have been used to treat anxiety. Brand names you may recognize include Celexa, Prozac and Zoloft.  Anxiolytics (benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium and non-benzodiazepines like Buspar) are also used. However, benzodiazepines are highly addictive, especially when used without medical supervision. Herbal remedies like Kava, Valerian and St. John's wort have also been used to allay anxiety. 
  • Meditation and relaxation training: We really do not know how these work, but they are effective in treating anxiety and have no known harmful effects. Mindfulness meditation is the oldest known technique to deal with anxiety. It teaches us to be aware of anxious thoughts as just thoughts passing through our awareness and we can learn to see them as mental events without having to react to them or try to get rid of them.

Are there other types of anxiety disorders?

Yes. There are other conditions that have similar symptoms:

  • Panic attacks are characterized by a sudden intense fear or discomfort in the absence of real danger – as if something terrible is about to happen. These feelings may be accompanied by sweating, difficulty breathing, feeling light headed, a pounding heart, shaky hands and can last 30-60 minutes.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurs in people who have either witnessed or lived through a potentially life threatening event such as an accident, natural disaster, war or intimate partner violence. Symptoms may develop weeks, months or years later in some cases. PTSD is characterized by anxiety, with flashbacks of the threatening event, nightmares, jumpiness, irritability or physical symptoms like digestive problems, aches and pains.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  People with OCD suffer from disturbing thoughts (obsessions) and images that are difficult to shake off and which they know are ridiculous. They may indulge in repetitive behaviors or rituals to ward off the accompanying anxiety. Such behaviors may take a lot of time to complete. Common examples are fear of germs or dirt, checking door locks, arranging and re-arranging objects for hours.
  • Phobia is the fear of something, such as an animal (spiders), a situation (riding in elevators) or open places (agoraphobia). People with a phobia will do anything to avoid the fearful stimulus. This can make life very difficult.

Getting help

Help at the University of Washington

Hall Health Mental Health Clinic

Offers both medication and talk therapies for students, faculty and their families, as well as referrals to outside providers.

To make an appointment, call (206) 616-2495

UW Counseling Center

Many free counseling, assessment and crisis intervention services for UW students

(206) 543-1240

External resources

National Institute of Mental Health resources on anxiety disorders

Anxiety Disorders Association of America

Center for Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) resources on anxiety disorders

 

Authored by: Hall Health Center Mental Health Clinic staff

Authored by: Hall Health Center Mental Health Clinic staff, January 2014


couple talking and sitting close togetherFirst-year students (and their parents!) usually have expectations about college life long before actually leaving home. Some students look forward to college, and are eager to experience more freedom and adventure, while others may feel enthusiastic initially, only to discover that they don't feel happy, comfortable, or secure in their new environment.


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