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March 21, 2003

Now that military conflict between the United States and Iraq is under way, individuals may experience an increased amount of stress.

Staff from SFSU Counseling and Psychological Services are available on a drop-in basis from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the week of March 24 in room 208 of the Student Services building. Hours will be extended if needed. The phone number is: (415) 338-2208, or ext. 8-2208 from any campus phone.

War tends to cause people to feel as if they are "under attack," SFSU counseling Professor Robert C. Chope says. "We've been programmed for millions of years to react to that with fight or flight."

The uncertainty of war and its consequences can also cause extremely high levels of anxiety, Chope adds.

Willie Mullins, clinical director for Counseling and Psychological Services, says college students may have additional stress and trauma because this is the first significant military conflict in their lifetime.

"Many of our students were not around during Vietnam, so war is a whole new world they've never experienced before," he says. "They are being bombarded with very mixed messages from the media, the president and people in the Bay Area."

Signs that individuals may be experiencing larger amounts of stress and trauma include:

  • irritability and short temper
  • increased feelings of anxiety
  • feelings of depression, isolation and detachment
  • headaches, back or neck pain
  • trouble breathing or elevated heart beat
  • heavier drinking, smoking and drug use
  • heavy eating or loss of appetite
  • fatigue or sleep deprivation
  • difficulty concentrating at work

"It's important to recognize these symptoms within yourself and your friends and mates," Mullins says.

If SFSU students, faculty or staff feel symptoms of stress and trauma, Mullins recommends talking about it with a counselor -- and even more importantly -- a close friend, significant other or family member. He says these conversations make a major difference in lowering stress.

"Sit down and have a conversation with your loved ones," he says. "It's an opportunity for you to honestly and openly discuss what you are experiencing and feeling. It's very important to not alienate your support base."

Chope also believes that talking about these issues in a group setting can help reduce anxiety.

Additional resources and links to help the campus community cope, communicate respectfully and support one another are available on the SFSU Office of Human Relations Web site.

For more about SFSU resources relating to the conflict with Iraq, visit the Web site.

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Last modified March 21, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs