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Common Mental Health Struggles

Common Mental Health Struggles

Below are listed some of the most common mental health struggles among US college students.

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders cause people to have an overwhelming feeling of continual and unrelenting worry, angst, and fear. Below are several anxiety management techniques taught at the 蜜桃影院 Counseling Center:

  • Managing the body - attending to exercise, diet, sleep, and potentially unhealthy substances (caffeine/sugar/alcohol, tobacco, drugs)
  • Breathing - deeply, slowly, frequently
  • Using Mindful Awareness - shifting your focus away from what creates anxiety
  • Not listening when worry calls your name - noticing the physical tension associated with worry and saying 'no' to it
  • Knowing, not showing, anger - recognizing the presence of anger and not acting on it
  • Having a little fun - finding the humor in the shared human condition
  • Turning it off - quieting the ruminative mind
  • Persistently interrupting negative thoughts - thought stopping and thought replacing with persistence
  • Worrying well, but only once - knowing it's okay to worry and doing it well, then letting go
  • Learning to plan instead of worry - using effective planning to help in the letting go process

Depression

Who Gets Depressed?

Everyone feels 'down' or 'low' or 'blue' every once in awhile.  It is a typical and healthy response to the everyday life disappointments, frustrations, separations and losses we all experience.

Depression is more common in women than men, and it can occur at any age.  Depression is very complex and can be difficult to diagnose.

Major Depression

Major depression is diagnosed when someone experiences either of the first two symptoms in the following list, and at least four or more of the other symptoms, continuously over a two-week period and in a way that departs from normal functioning.

  • Feeling depressed or sad most of the day
  • Loss of interest or ability to derive pleasure from all or nearly all activities that were previously enjoyed
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting, or weight gain, or a decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
  • Difficulty sleeping through the night or the need for more sleep during the day
  • Noticeably slowed down or agitated throughout the day
  • Feeling fatigued or a loss of energy nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or extreme or inappropriate guilt
  • Difficulties with concentration or the ability to think, which can also be seen by others as indecisiveness
  • Recurrent thought of death or ideas about suicide (with or without a specific plan for committing suicide) or a suicide attempt

Grief and Loss

Loss in our lives is inevitable and grief is a natural way to deal with loss.  The length of the grieving process varies from one person to the next.  Even though grieving can be very painful, it should not be rushed.  Try to situate yourself around supportive people who will allow you the time you need to grieve.

Ways of Coping with Grief

  • Talk to family and friends
  • Seek counseling
  • Engage in social activities
  • Exercise
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Get plenty of sleep; make time to care for yourself
  • Join a support group
  • Take a walk
  • Take time to grieve

How to Support Those Who Are Grieving

  • Be a good listener
  • Ask about their feelings
  • Share your feelings
  • Acknowledge their pain
  • Let them grieve for as long as needed
  • Be available

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious and complex diseases that affect men and women of all ages.

The most common eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating
  • Bulimia Nervosa

How to recognize if you or someone you care about may be struggling with an eating disorder:

  • Do you make yourself sick because you feel full or want to eat more?
  • Do you worry that you have lost control over how much you actually eat?
  • Have you recently lost 15 pounds or more in a three month period?
  • Do you see yourself as fat or overweight when others tell you that you are skinny or too thin?
  • Do you find that you constantly think about food

If you answered 'yes' to two or more of the above questions, you possibly could have an eating disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Students studying for mid-terms, finals or even finishing up a paper can feel stressed and overwhelmed.  They may be irritable, anxious, sad and tired.  These can be typical responses to stress that will be alleviated once mid-terms are over.  However, for some students these symptoms continue to persist and worsen.  Symptoms that persist and worsen during the fall and winter months may be a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  SAD symptoms include:

  • Increased feelings of stress and anxiety
  • Lower mood and/or increased sadness
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Irritability and/or restlessness
  • Changes in school performance
  • Decreased energy
  • Increased sleep, feeling tired or washed out
  • Changes in weight or appetite

Seasonal Affective Disorder appears in the fall and winter months due to the diminishing exposure to sunlight.  SAD affects about 5-13% of the population.  The Mayo Clinic states that the decrease in sunlight affects circadian rhythm, serotonin and melatonin levels.

  • Circadian Rhythm (your biological clock)  
    The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may disrupt your body's internal clock, which lets you know when you should sleep and be awake.  This disruption of your circadian rhythm may lead to feelings of depression.
  • Serotonin levels
    A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in seasonal affective disorder.  Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
  • Melatonin levels
    The change in season can disrupt the balance of the natural hormone melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.

SAD can have a significant impact on a student's well-being and academic success.  SAD is a real condition with treatment options which include:

  • Learn about symptoms and SAD.
  • Pay attention to warning signs and what triggers may affect SAD.
  • Increase exercise.  Physical activity may help reduce symptoms and manage stress levels.
  • Follow treatment plan.  If taking medication or in therapy, continue to follow recommendations.
  • Get adequate sleep and maintain a healthy diet, watching carbohydrate intake.
  • Light exposure therapy - follow your health care provider's recommendations.
  • Avoid alcohol and illicit drugs.  They can worsen symptoms and make SAD more difficult to treat.

Importance of Treatment

These struggles can greatly interfere with everyday life and lead to many health problems. In addition, many symptoms of the above listed struggles are also symptoms of medical issues; for example, symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include thyroid issues, chronic viral illness, and chronic fatigue.

If you think that you or someone you care about may be experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, it is important that you seek medical assistance. You should schedule and appointment with Dr. Rodriguez in the Health Clinic or meet with a 蜜桃影院 Counselor.

Resources & Information

If you are interested in learning more about these mental health struggles and their treatment, the links provided below will direct you to the relevant mental health pages on the American Psychiatric Association website.

News

Andrew Ellison, current director of the St. Ambrose Center for Catholic Liberal Education and Culture, will move to a new role on March 1.

Students of local Catholic schools are eligible for automatic admission through the Crusader Promise.

Nancy Cain Marcus, MA 鈥00 PhD 鈥03, previously served as United States Ambassador and Public Delegate to the United Nations.