Anxiety and depression: Handling mental health
Exams, papers and deadlines can put an entirely different level of stress on college students.
Every bad grade can feel like wasted time, tuition and effort that pushes you much further from your dreams.
College can also bring plenty of joy. With all the fear and stress that comes with the independence, there is also a happiness that comes with freedom. Being responsible for oneself can be exciting, invigorating and refreshing for many.
That joy comes easier to some than others.
Some will find themselves overwhelmed with anxiety and they will struggle with depression. However, it often feels easier to ignore than to talk about.
For many young adults, dealing with anxiety and depression can become a serious issue as they transition into college life. Some learn how to deal with it quickly and on their own, some struggle for years and need help to deal with it and some will deal with even more serious mental health issues.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. About 18 percent of adult Americans deal with anxiety disorders. Fortunately, they are one of the most easily treated mental illnesses. Unfortunately, people rarely seek treatment.
Depression and anxiety often go hand-in-hand. Nearly half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with some kind of anxiety disorder as well. These conditions are difficult to deal with on their own, but together they often cripple the quality of life for students and non-students alike.
An estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported one tenth of adults suffer from depression. Depression affects one’s mental and physical health; it ruins the ability to study for a student, it prevents students from enjoying their time in college and it is much more serious than simply “feeling down.”
Mental disorders go untreated and ignored for many different reasons, including a lack of available resources, finances and support. But a sad fact is many people choose not to address the issues they struggle with because they are afraid.
Those who deal with mental illness often fear what people will think of them for it. They fear being judged as crazy, weak or dangerous. It seems easier to deny to one’s self that there is an issue. The issue will then likely persist with no treatment, and occasionally become even worse than ever necessary.
Dealing with anxiety, depression and mental illnesses is hard enough without treatment. With treatment, though, many issues can be resolved, and simply being able to talk about one’s issues can help.
Awareness and emotional support are some of the easiest ways to help those suffering from any number of mental health issues.
The Walk for Mental Health Awareness Houston is just one group that is trying to give that support and awareness. Perhaps a walk does not seem like much in the way of help. Perhaps fundraising is not even the most important aspect of the organization.
The walk does much more than just exercise and fundraising. It shows those who are afraid to seek help that there are people out there who understand what they are going through. It shows that there are people out there that are sympathetic to the crushing struggles that depression and anxiety bring.
Communication, sympathy and awareness let people know that it is OK to admit their issues. It gives encouragement to seek help rather than bury the symptoms and suffering. There may be people who react negatively, but there are also many, many people who care about you as well.
If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, depression or some other mental illness that it interfering with their day-to-day life, don’t let it go untreated and ignored. Talk to someone, whether it is a loved one or someone anonymous. Share your feelings and fears, and make it a point to seek out help as well.
Anxiety and depression can ruin the joys of college for many people. It can affect grades, health and relationships.
It can have deep consequences, but there is help and there are people who care. If you are suffering from depression, reach out to a friend, a hotline or even the University’s Depression Research Clinic.
It’s often hard to reach out in depression, but there is hope and there is help.
Opinion columnist Shane Brandt is a petroleum engineering senior and may be reached at [email protected]