I Will Meet You There, and We Can Be Anxious Together: The Lived Experiences of College Students with Anxiety Disorders

Whitney Dickerson 1, Timothy Reid Nelson 1 *

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp. 85-105

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The purpose of this qualitative transcendental phenomenological study was to understand the essence of the shared lived experiences of undergraduate college students with anxiety disorders at two universities in the Southeastern United States. Ellis’s cognitive theory, rational emotive behavior therapy, guided the study which took place at a mid-sized, public nonsectarian university and a small, private liberal arts college. The central research question elicited rich data regarding the shared lived experiences of the study participants. The four research sub-questions address participants’ perceptions regarding the impact of their disorders on their lifestyles and academic performance. A purposeful criterion sample was used to select the participants who completed a questionnaire, open-ended individual interviews, a single focus group interview, and participant journals. Phenomenological reduction was used to create a composite integration of meaning and the essence of the lived experience of the participants. Data results identified five themes: (a) social fears, (b) stressor issues, (c) generational issues, (d) academic performance barriers, and (e) institutional education and accommodation preferences.

Keywords: Alexithymia, anxiety, disorder, qualitative, stressors