DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

CECILIA LEAVITT AND COLT SCOTT
‘DOAH CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

How often do you find yourself feeling anxious or depressed? Does it feel at times that college life is get- ting too difficult? While many campuses have resources that may help, such as counselors, mental health screenings and places for relaxation, these resources may not be able to support the abundance of students in need, much less those who actually come forward with their concerns.

While many of the students who come to college have good experiences and are able to cope with everyday stresses, a growing number of students come in having already experienced depression and anxiety during early stages of their development, as well as students who develop symptoms of anxiety and depression while attending college. Shenandoah University’s counseling director, Nancy Schulte, identified what kinds of environmental trig- gers play into students’ anxiety. “A percentage of students have trouble coping with everyday life stressors. Some of them do have histories of struggling with self-acceptance dur- ing middle school and high school years,” Schulte explained. Other environmental triggers that Schulte included were unhealthy family functioning and cases of trauma in students’ backgrounds.

Students experiencing depres- sion and anxiety do not often seek help because of stigma surrounding these issues; in fact, it is the number one reason students do not seek help, as reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). However, some students do seek counseling through their schools. According to Schulte, within in the past two years, Shenandoah has experienced a 37 percent increase in demand for counseling services. This parallels the national averages, as tested by the American College Counseling Association in 2012.

In the spring of 2013, the Shenan- doah University counseling services saw 189 students, 53 of which were ex- periencing anxiety, 45 with depression and 29 having relationship conflicts. Of those 189 students, 105 lived on cam- pus, and 84 commuted. As a whole, the counseling services participated in 772 sessions with students. As dedicated as the counseling staff is, the workload for such a demand is substantially greater than what can be provided.

All students may experience feel- ings of anxiety in one form or another. Whether you are dealing with academ- ic stress, relationship conflicts or any other significant stressor, students are not advised to self-diagnose. However, if you feel that you are experiencing a number of these physical or emotional symptoms, you are strongly advised to seek counseling or professional help. These symptoms include insomnia, headaches, trouble concentrating and severe feelings of apprehension or dread.

Though it may be difficult, there are ways you may deal with these

symptoms. Finding an outlet or activ- ity is a healthy way to help deal with anxiety. “Exercise is a great stress reliever because I’ve noticed that I’m significantly less stressed this semes- ter,” an anonymous source revealed.

When asked what students can do to relieve their anxiety, she sug- gested that they “find their activity that lets them focus on what they’re doing and forget for a little while; that’s what piano and dance do for

me.”At the counseling center, located on the third floor of Cooley Hall, there are a number of resourceful pamphlets that provide helpful infor- mation on how to better understand anxiety or depression. From one of the pamphlets they provide at the counseling center, it states, “Main- taining good health is not a cure, but it can tremendously affect your overall sense of wellness. A good diet, exercise and regular sleep habits can help you feel better.”

Again, we highly suggested if you believe you are experiencing any symptoms of anxiety or depression to seek professional help. Though it may be difficult to seek help, you are not alone; there are people willing to help. You just have to be willing to try.

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