Nearly 12,000 third-level students sought help for mental health problems within the past year.
That's double the numbers who attended counselling in 2010, according to new figures from the Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education.
Half of all the referrals were for anxiety, while there has also been an increase in the number of students needing help for self-harm and identity issues.
Those with disabilities and international or non-Irish students were more likely to seek college counselling.
Counsellors say anxiety problems can involve a range of issues - such as social anxiety, panic attacks, acute stress, worrying and isolation.
Gertie Raftery, chair of the Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education, explained that anxiety seems to be a particular problem for people of college-going age.
She observed: "We see the figures mirrored in the UK and US as well.
"There's a general increase in anxiety around the world, that seems to be particularly affecting this age group."
She noted that while the causes are not exactly known, factors such as social media pressure, health issues and social media breakdown could be among those leading to the increase in anxiety.
Almost 12,000 students sought counselling in the last academic year, up from about 6,000 students in 2010,
In Ireland there is one counsellor for every 2,600 students,
That is seen as low, given international best practice recommends one counsellor for every 1,000-1,500 students.
Many colleges have to operate waiting list, as there is not enough staff to cope with the growing numbers of students who have mental health problems.
Some students have to wait eight weeks to be seen by a professional.
Mrs Raftery added: "The waiting time varies in different colleges - we are understaffed, that's a constant problem.
"Certainly more counsellors are needed - we did get a promise from the Youth Mental Health Taskforce that this would be looked at, but that hasn't been forthcoming so far."