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University Counseling Center

Symptoms of Distressd or Distressing Students

Sometimes it is very clear when a student is having difficulties coping, and at other times psychological distress is masked with less obvious symptoms. Some obvious and not-so-obvious signs of distress are:

PROBLEMS WITH ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

  • Poor academic performance and preparation, particularly if such behavior represents a change in previous functioning
  • Excessive absences or tardiness, especially if representing a change in functioning
  • Chronic indecisiveness or procrastination
  • Repeated requests for special considerations
  • Increased concern about grades despite satisfactory performance
  • Increased dependence – student hangs around you or makes excessive appointments to see you during office hours

UNUSUAL BEHAVIOR

  • Listlessness, lack of energy, or falling asleep in class
  • Disruptive classroom behavior
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene
  • Impaired speech or disjointed, confused thoughts
  • Aggressive or threatening behavior
  • Extreme mood changes or excessive, inappropriate display of emotions
  • Hyperactivity, irritability, or heightened anxiety
  • Prolonged or extreme emotionality
  • Dramatic weight loss or weight gain with no apparent physical illness/reason
  • Bizarre or strange behavior indicating a loss of contact with reality
  • Use of mood altering chemicals (e.g. alcohol or drugs)

TRAUMATIC CHANGE IN RELATIONSHIPS

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

REFERENCES TO SUICIDE OR HOMICIDE

  • Overt (or veiled) references to suicide – verbally or in writing
  • Statements of helplessness or hopelessness
  • Indications of persistent or prolonged unhappiness
  • Isolated self from friends and family
  • Pessimistic feelings about the future
  • Homicidal threats

Guide Table of Content

Addendum