Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that causes inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior, often negatively affecting a person’s life and performance at work or school. Individuals diagnosed with ADHD tend to be linked with one of 3 subtypes, depending on whether their symptoms are predominantly hyperactive and impulsive, predominantly inattentive, or a combination of the two. ADHD is considered a childhood disorder, but about 60% of individuals who experience childhood symptoms of ADHD continue to experience some related symptoms in adulthood. At times, individuals meeting criteria for ADHD are not properly diagnosed until well into adulthood. It has been estimated that as much as 4% of the US adult population meets criteria for adult ADHD. This amounts to roughly 8 million American adults.

Symptoms of ADHD can have a significant effect on a person’s overall functioning and can strongly influence academic performance and personal functioning. Individuals with adult ADHD can experience significant difficulties with focus and concentration, procrastination, disorganization, mood swings, restlessness, substance abuse, and unstable relationships with others. Since academic success in traditional college environments can have much to do with one’s ability to learn and retain lecture material and one’s ability to identify important details from densely written academic writings, individuals with ADHD can struggle to be successful at colleges and universities and can be disadvantaged relative to their peers.

Many different treatments can be effective in managing ADHD, and speaking with a Physician or Psychologist about your symptoms and needs may be helpful to you. Psychotherapy can help individuals with ADHD improve their time management skills, improve self-esteem, and develop tailored strategies for dealing with the specific symptoms. Your physician may recommend medications that can improve focus and may closely monitor you to ensure proper medication use and to manage undesirable side effects. Here at UWSP, the Counseling Center offers individual therapy and the Student Health Service (715-346-4646) is available to speak with you about medical strategies for dealing with your symptoms.  

Click here for more detailed information about Adult ADHD: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/adult-adhd/DS01161


Insomnia is the medical term for a persistent difficulty falling asleep, and/or staying asleep. Individuals who experience sleep problems regularly feel tired and lethargic and routinely struggle to concentrate adequately on tasks that require their attention. While an occasional instance of poor sleep or a sleepless night are quite normal, sleep difficulties that become regular can have a substantial effect on an individual’s ability to carry out responsibilities throughout the day. Sleep issues can be caused by medications, mental distress, such as anxiety or depression, alcohol use, poor structuring of time, and other factors. On college and university campuses, sleep-related problems are among the most common issues brought to the attention of Physicians and Psychologists.

Insomnia can sometimes be addressed by simply changing some behaviors and implementing improved “sleep hygiene.” Good sleep hygiene often involves having a fixed bedtime and awakening time, avoiding all-nighters that can disrupt a person’s sleep schedule for multiple days, exercising regularly during the day, limiting distractions while trying to sleep and avoiding alcohol and caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtimes. Students in particular often have highly variable sleep schedules as they adjust to changing expectations throughout the academic semester and as they obtain different levels of restful sleep between the weekends and weekdays. Prioritizing sleep and setting aside sufficient time for it can greatly improve academics as well as a person’s mood and physical health.

If changing sleeping, studying and lifestyle habits fails to improve insomnia, medical options are available to help people sleep adequately. Sufficient rest is critical for academic success and a person’s physical well-being. If you are having trouble with your sleep, you may wish to speak to a Counseling Center professional or a Physician.

 Unwanted Sexual Contact & Sexual Assault

UWSP is committed to creating a safe and inclusive learning atmosphere and preventing instances of dating violence, stalking, harassment and sexual assault.  The University aims to be as responsive as possible to victims of these crimes by reaching out to survivors and advocating for them, all while working to ensure that survivors feel empowered when they choose to report these crimes to authorities on campus or in the community. 

Survivors of sexual assault often experience strain on their mental health, sometimes in ways that be highly destabilizing or disruptive.  Staff at the Counseling Center are able to provide mental healthcare to sexual assault survivors and can help you explore options and make decisions about how to proceed following an assault. 

 Concerning Eating Behaviors & Body Image Issues

There are a number of different ways that a person’s eating behavior can be concerning. Unhealthy eating behaviors can involve overeating, eating extremely small amounts, excessive concerns about body appearance, or performing unhealthy compensatory weight-management behaviors such as overexercise, vomiting, or the use of laxatives or diuretics. Unhealthy eating behaviors often have their roots in an individual’s general dissatisfaction with their body image and their personal efforts to correct this perceived problem. However, unhealthy eating behaviors can emerge from other sources as well, such as athletes who attempt to slim down to improve performance or compete in a particular weight class for certain sports. While good health can involve maintenance of a healthy weight, it is critically important that a person’s eating, exercise and self-image be consistent with a nutritionally and medically accurate view of what constitutes “healthy.”

Over a very short period of time, dysfunctional eating behaviors can lead to serious and sometimes permanent health consequences. These can include organ damage or failure, infertility, cardiovascular problems, and bone and joint problems. In addition, disordered eating can lead to visible outward symptoms, such as yellowing of the skin, brittle hair and nails and muscle wasting. With assistance, eating problems can be addressed in a way that is physically healthy and which satisfies the individual’s expectations for themselves. 

Concerning eating behaviors can emerge for both men and women, often over time. If you believe that your current eating habits may not be fully healthy, or if you are concerned about your body image, contact the UWSP Counseling Center or Health Service to consult with a professional about the situation. If you are concerned about the eating behavior of a friend, you may wish to schedule a brief consultation with a counselor. Counseling Center staff can help you develop a thoughtful strategy for addressing the issue. 


Symptoms of Depression generally involve feeling sad, blue, unhappy, unmotivated and lethargic. While it is extremely common for people to feel this way for short durations or in response to a stressful event in life, it becomes a serious concern when it begins to interfere with daily life for weeks or longer. Severe depressive episodes can directly cause a wide variety of other serious and related mental health concerns, such as suicidal thoughts, sleep changes, social withdrawal, anger, restlessness, feelings of hopelessness, severely decreased energy, motivation issues, relationship problems, and academic issues. Sometimes people compensate for these disturbing feelings through the increased use and abuse of alcohol or drugs, risky sexual behaviors and other dangerous and unhealthy responses. These can make the situation much worse in the long run.

There are many different effective treatments for Depression. Psychotherapy is a proven treatment strategy for dealing with mood disturbances such as Depression and the UWSP Counseling Center is staffed with Licensed Psychologists and Counselors that are available to see current students for no cost. Should you schedule an appointment with the Counseling Center, your therapist will speak to you about the nature of your concerns and work with you to determine a strategy for dealing with the issue. Often this will include several meetings and conversations about the issue at hand, and your therapist will work to help you navigate through your concerns while the two of you investigate their causes. Medication is also an available option for managing Depression. The Health Service routinely sees students and oversees the management of mood related issues with prescription medications and can collaborate closely with the counseling center when authorized by students to do so. If you have experienced a period of depressed mood and wish to speak to a professional about the situation, contact the UWSP Counseling Center at 715-346-3553. 

For additional Information about Major Depression, click the following link:  Major Depression - Harvard Medical School

 Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million Americans 18 and older and are one of the most common mental health conditions both in the nation and on college campuses. Anxiety issues consistently represent one of the top two reasons for seeking counseling in college. Anxiety can take a lot of forms. It can be situational and specific, such as anxiousness around taking exams or interacting in new social situations, or it can be broad and general, with people noticing that they worry consistently about many different things and have difficulty controlling it or relaxing. Students at UWSP commonly express anxiety about health, money, family problems, career decisions, the expectations of others and academic performance. At times, students also experience sudden cases of overwhelming fear and anxiety, combined with a rapid heartbeat, sweating, faintness and dizziness, known as Panic Attacks. For people who experience such attacks, both the attack itself and fear of a subsequent attack can be very disruptive.

While it is very normal to experience nervousness and anxiety before important school activities, like tests and in response to unfamiliar situations, anxiety that persists and is disruptive can be managed in a variety of ways. Psychotherapy is scientifically supported as an effective intervention that can produce both short-term change and lasting results. Medications can also be effective in managing anxiety in the short term and a number of safe and effective options are available. If you feel as though your nervousness, agitation and overall fearfulness of certain situations has become overwhelming or disruptive, you may benefit from speaking to a Psychologist, Counselor or Physician about your situation and needs.

For additional information about anxiety, click the following link: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

 Relationship Problems

Most people are involved in a number of relationships, including those with family, friends, teammates, romantic partners and others. Each one is guided by different rules and expectations. Relationships can be highly disruptive and emotionally distressing when they become strained. Regardless of whether the relationship is friendly or romantic, ongoing or ended, inside of your family or outside of it, when the people around us are unhappy, unwell, or absent, the result can be a strong emotional reaction that can affect our own well-being. Even poor roommate relationships can present serious problems and must be taken seriously. After all, in college you might spend as much time with your roommates as another adult does with their spouse!

When a relationship starts to sour, ends, or looks like it is becoming destructive, people often find it helpful to speak to a professional. An outsider can provide a neutral perspective and help you gain some clarity about how you interact with others and how they interact with you. If the relationship becomes dangerous, a professional can help you safely and cautiously address it. 

If you feel like you are involved in a personal relationship with another person and that it is troublesome for you, do not hesitate to contact the Counseling Center. Many options are available to help you heal from unhealthy relationships in the past and present and improve your relationships in the future.

 LGBTQ Wellness

The Counseling Center staff is respectful and affirming of the diversity of identities that fall within the spectrum of sexuality and gender, and recognizes the range of concerns that may impact individuals who identify within the LGBTQ community.

The Counseling Center is an affirming and confidential space that may be helpful in exploring your identities and addressing concerns that may accompany that exploration. The Counseling Center routinely works with allies and advocacy groups on campus to promote a safe and inclusive environment at UWSP. In collaboration with our campus partners, we have assembled the information below to help students who may be considering coming out, questioning their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, searching for information, or interested in advocacy for matters related to sexual and gender diversity. 

Sexual Orientation
Sexual orientation refers to whom one is attracted to emotionally, sexually, physically, and/or spiritually.

Sexual orientation falls along a continuum. In other words, individuals can feel varying degrees of attraction for different genders. Sexual orientation develops across a person’s lifetime. Different people realize at different points in their lives that they are heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or somewhere outside of these specific identities such as pansexual or asexual.

Sexual behavior does not necessarily equate to sexual orientation. Many adolescents, as well as many adults, may identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual without having had any sexual experience. Other people have had sexual experiences with a person of the same gender, but do not consider themselves to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. 

Gender Identity

Gender identity refers to a person's innate, deeply felt psychological identification as a man, woman or some other gender, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth. Because this is an internal identity, it may not be visible to others.

Gender Expression

Gender expression refers to external characteristics and behaviors (clothing, hairstyle, etc.) that are socially categorized as masculine, feminine, or gender neutral. Some individuals express their gender in a way that is consistent with their gender identity, while others may not feel safe or able to do so for a variety of reasons.


Transgender is an umbrella term referring to those whose gender identity is different from the one assigned to them at birth. The term trans* includes all those who challenge the traditional gender binary or identify within the wide spectrum of gender variance, without specific emphasis on identity labels. Some individuals who identify as transgender or trans* choose to seek medical care such as hormone therapy and/or surgery in order to express their gender in a way that is more consistent with their identity. Others may not undergo these physical transitions, either by choice or due to a variety of potential barriers to this type of intervention.    

Coming Out

Coming out is a process of understanding, accepting, and valuing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and is a lifelong process. Because of societal prejudices and discrimination, coming out can be a difficult process for people who identify within the LGBTQ community.  

Coming out is a continuous process which includes both recognizing part of one’s own identity and sharing that with others. Realizing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity happens in different ways and occurs at different ages for different people. Since people tend to assume that a person is heterosexual and cisgender, people who identify as LGBTQ have to face the decision of whether or not to share their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Coming out is not an all-or-nothing process. Oftentimes, for safety reasons or otherwise, people may be out in some areas of their lives and not others.

Coming out can stir up a myriad of emotions and may include some degree of loss for many people. Coming out can present many benefits including the feeling of living as your authentic self, connecting with others, and being more honest with family and friends. Unfortunately, these experiences are not always shared amongst individuals in the LGBTQ community. Coming out can also present a lot of anxiety, rejection, prejudice, and discrimination as well.

Providing Support
People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender often face problems more difficult than those that are faced by people who identify as heterosexual or straight. These experiences often create a sense of isolation, fear of stigmatization, and loss of peer or familial support.

It is important for people to keep an open mind and support individuals who are facing these problems. Even one person of support can make a huge difference in these individuals’ lives.

For more information on how to be a supportive ally, contact the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), attend one of their Safe-Zone training sessions, or visit

Finding Support
Youth who identify as LGBTQ have few opportunities for observing positive modeling by adults due to the general cultural bias that makes people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender invisible. It is this isolation and lack of support from community members, friends, and family that accounts in part of the higher rates of emotional distress and suicide attempts amongst those who identify as LGBTQ.

The Counseling Center is a resource for students who are struggling with issues relating to their gender and/or sexual identity. We encourage you to make an appointment with a therapist at the Counseling Center if you could use professional support. To make an appointment, please contact the Counseling Center at 715-346-3553.

The Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) also has great resources for finding support here at UWSP. The GSA strives to provide services to students who identify as LGBT and to act as advocates for these students to the campus at large. ​

 Time Management for the Undergraduate Student

Most students arrive on college campuses unsure what to expect from their classes. Most have a sense that the expectations will be different from high school in some way, but most have to adapt to the changes they experience. Study strategies that were perfectly acceptable and productive at the high school level seldom work in college. Being a college student offers much more freedom than the more structured environment of a high school classroom. Not having somebody looking over your shoulder means that you are free to use your time during the day as you please, but it also means that you need to take responsibility for your use of time and make sure that you fit enough study time into your week to succeed. Here are some tips to help you manage your time:
  • It is far better to overestimate the amount of time you need to study and then put hours back into your “free time” than to underestimate the amount of study time you need and try to play catch up after several weeks of poor grades. Each class will require a different commitment from you; some will be harder and require more effort, others will tap directly into your strengths and be easier. Use the first few weeks of every semester to sort out what you need to do to be successful in each class and try to never let yourself get off to a bad start in a semester.
  • The healthiest and most successful students in college are good at striking balances. They have active and fulfilling social lives that are balanced with lots of time reading for classes and following through with homework. If you feel that it is important that you go out on some nights or weekends, make absolutely sure that you have time set aside elsewhere for your school responsibilities. You want four years of college stories and a degree, not two semesters of party stories and a story about failing out.
  • Be efficient with your time. If watching a game on the weekend is important to you, but three hours on Thursday morning isn’t as valuable, use that unstructured morning time to get through an assigned chapter or project. Good students fit things into their days and prioritize both their social needs and academic needs. 
  • If you are struggling, speak to the instructor before things get out of hand.

 Note Taking and Attendance Strategies for Academic Success

Remember that your professors are experts in their field, not exclusively teachers. They likely know far more about their fields that a typical high school teacher would, but don’t always focus on making complicated information entertaining or engaging. At times it will feel like you are expected to “teach yourself” from the book and lecture material. While it is an adjustment at first, being good at taking initiative like this will be helpful to you in every class and when you are expected to be independent and resourceful in a career.

Attending class is essential and makes being a successful student a lot easier. Some classes test you on material from the book and lecture and do not overlap material between the two. Missing class and relying on somebody else’s notes is a risky strategy for understanding the material. Getting up for a morning class is a tough but temporary commitment, but a poor grade in a class you seldom attended will linger on your transcript forever.

Take detailed notes in classes. It is better to write down too much and have a record of everything for the tests than to have a page of notes with barely anything on it. Sometimes simply the act of writing something down can cause you to focus on it just enough to remember it later. If you use a computer or tablet for note-taking, stay away from social network sites and web surfing during class. Facebook will still be there in an hour, but an important concept or definition might not be.

 Test Anxiety

Being anxious prior to an important test is extremely common. Some people get a little nervous before the test, while others get almost paralyzed to the point where they feel like they cannot perform at all. Below are some tips to help you manage text anxiety. However, if your anxiety becomes very difficult to control, you should consider making an appointment at the Counseling Center to discuss your concerns.
  • Preparation is the best defense against test anxiety. Just as it feels terrifying to open up a test and feel like you know nothing, it feels great to open up a test and feel like you know most of the correct responses right off the bat. Working hard on being prepared before the test can pay off hugely when the test is actually in front of you. You might be glad you spent those mornings reading all the assigned chapters or articles.
  • Excellence and perfection are not the same thing. No matter how much you study, you will encounter “curveball” questions that tap into something you aren’t fully familiar with. Remember, you do not need a 100% score to get an excellent grade in the course or demonstrate that you clearly know the material. If you struggle with the first few items on a test, do not let that cause you to lose focus for the rest of the test. Remember, you get graded on your overall performance and each test question is a new opportunity to earn points. Don’t allow yourself to get pessimistic and sloppy during the test itself, especially with essay or writing tests.
  • If your test is multiple-choice, and the right answers are not always clear, always look for responses you can eliminate. If you narrow it down to two right-sounding answers, you are much more likely to get the item correct than if you try to guess from 4 or 5 answers. Being well prepared can be very helpful here too. You may not know exactly what every question is talking about, but if you can determine that some of the answers are unrelated and probably not correct, you can do a lot for your score.
  • Take a deep breath and close your eyes for a few seconds if needed. Everyone is entitled to use every last minute of the time provided and there is almost never an incentive for finishing fast.
  • Try to get plenty of sleep the night before. What you might be able to remember from an all-night cramming session might not be enough to compensate for the reduced performance you get from being totally exhausted.
  • The best strategy for remembering almost anything is “repeated, spaced review.” Starting well before the test and going over the same thing several times is almost always better than trying to get it all done in one massive studying block.
  • If you go into tests feeling fully prepared, but still have very disruptive anxiety that influences your performance, you are not alone. Call the Counseling Center or Health Service to speak to a professional. There may be behavioral or medical strategies for managing your anxiety in some of these situations.