WASHINGTON - College students are so frazzled they can't sleep or eat. Or study. They're even anxious about spring break.
Most students in US colleges are just plain stressed out, from everyday worries about grades and relationships to darker thoughts of suicide, according to a poll of undergraduates from coast to coast. The survey was conducted for the Associated Press and mtvU, a television network available at many colleges and universities.
Four in 10 students say they endure stress often. Nearly one in five say they feel it all or most of the time. But most are bearing it. Nearly two-thirds in the survey say they enjoy life.
Majorities cite classic stress symptoms including trouble concentrating, sleeping, and finding motivation. Most say they have also been agitated, worried, too tired to work.
"Everything is being piled on at once," said Chris Curran, a junior at the Albany College of Pharmacy in Albany, N.Y. He said he has learned to cope better since starting school. "You just get really agitated and anxious. Then you start procrastinating, and it all piles up."
Many cite eating problems and say they have felt lonely, depressed, like they are failures. Substantial numbers are even concerned about spring break, chiefly not having enough money or being in good physical shape.
More than a quarter of the students sometimes think they should cut down on drinking or going out. A third say they sometimes want to use drugs or alcohol to relax. About 15 percent say they're at least somewhat concerned about drinking too much on spring break.
One in five say they have felt too stressed to do schoolwork or be with friends. About the same number say things have been so bad in the past three months that they have seriously considered dropping out of school.
Darker still, about one in six say they have friends who in the past year have discussed committing suicide, and about one in 10 say they have seriously considered it themselves. Friends have actually tried to end their lives in that time, one in 10 say.
All is not doom and gloom for today's students.
Six in 10 in the survey say they are usually hopeful and enjoy life. Half even concede they feel understood by their families.
"I enjoy college, I'm enjoying my experiences," said Emily McMahan, a University of Cincinnati junior.