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Current depression and anxiety issues in college students

  • Depression and anxiety are quite prevalent in today’s world. There are many reasons for both the old and young alike to be stressed, tensed, and insecure which then go on to become the root of mental conditions like depression and anxiety.

    Having said that, youngsters like college students are at a greater disadvantage than their older counterparts when it comes to dealing maturely with highs and lows in life.  Going to this, they tend to succumb easily to conditions like these hampering their physical health and mental productivity in the bargain. 

    Understanding depression:

    A research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry recently, brought to light an unbelievable yet astonishing fact. As per this study, the major depression rates for high school American kids and young adults went up from being 3.33% to 7.06% within a decade from 1991 to 2002. That is almost a 50% rise! And these numbers have only increased the next two decades, i.e. till 2019.

    WHERE DOES DEPRESSION STEM FROM?

    • Mental or physical trauma
    • Huge failures or setbacks
    • Divorce or loss of a loved one
    • Constant stress and tension
    • Sexual violence or molestation
    • Childhood phobias or irrational fears
    • Domestic violence

    WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION?

    The signs and symptoms of depression may not be quite apparent since a depressed person usually appears happy and merry on the outside. However, chronic depression amounting to long phases will gradually show diminishing health which is the key symptom of depressed individuals.

    • Sudden weight loss or weight gain, i.e. up to 10% of total body weight
    • Feeling unhappy, indecisive, disappointed, miserable, hopeless almost all the time
    • Agitated, frustrated and irritated at any given instant over the pettiest of things
    • Low self-esteem and hampered productivity
    • Heavy reliance upon drugs or binge eating
    • Insomnia or sleeping for long hours
    • Lost appetite, lethargy, fatigue, and frequently falling ill

    HOW CAN YOU ADDRESS IT?

    • Medical help:

    This goes without saying. There is no way around medical help that can cure your depression. You need to see a professional that will not only help treat your current state of mind but also prevent the occurrence of it in the future. In addition to medical help and taking anti-depressants as per your doctors prescription, there are other steps you can use to address your depression.

    • Aromatherapy:

    The basic healing concept behind aromatherapy is that you use essential oils of soothing and calming fragrances to help create a relaxing effect in your mind. You can sprinkle these oils in and around your house, on your pillow, or simply use it in a diffuser. The most common oils used in aromatherapy as lavender, rose, sandal, and eucalyptus oils.

    • Psychotherapy:

    Psychotherapy is the process of using your psychological condition in order to treat your depression. However, psychotherapy, by itself, is not a sure way of treatment. But if you back it up with medical and professional aid and use psychotherapy as an aided treatment possibility, chances are you’ll be recovering well and in no time.

    • Talk therapy:

    As the name suggests, talk therapy involves you speaking your mind into a psychiatrist or a counsellor. Talk therapy works amazingly well for people who have piled up their negative and hurtful emotions inside without allowing it an opening to vent it out of their system. It lightens your mind and removes your burden thereby enhancing your mental health too.

    • Art therapy:

    Drawing, coloring, and music are some forms of art that induce the feelings of happiness and contentment in your system. They suppress the production of stress hormone cortisol while inducing the release of happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin.

    This goes onto creating a good vibe which, with time, can even greatly improve and positively impact your condition of depression.

    • Cognitive behavioural therapy:

    During cognitive behavioural theory, your doctor studies the patterns of your thinking, understands your thought processes the way your mind works, and the negative emotions that come into play. Based on their findings, they design a customised approach to your depression and help you get over it as fast as possible.

    Related article: How educators can help students deal with laziness and stress

    Understanding anxiety:

    As per the current scenario, there are 6.8 million Americans diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder a huge part of which is made up of youngsters in schools and colleges.

    Anxiety is mainly characterized by failure or incapability of going out in public places or social settings. People suffering from general anxiety disorders get panic attacks at the mere thought of having to socialize outside of their comfort zones.

    WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF ANXIETY?

    • Financial stress
    • Stress at school, work, or personal relationships
    • Side effects of medical aid or illnesses
    • Emotional trauma or childhood fears
    • The memory of an unpleasant incident in the past
    • Irrational fear of people
    • Low self-esteem or constant bullying
    • Side effects of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, LSD, or weed

    WHAT ARE ITS SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS?

    • Feeling agitated, stressed, irritability, and restless
    • Lack of concentration and inability to remain focused
    • Stressed and tensed
    • Frequent and sudden panic attacks for no solid reason
    • Avoiding social gatherings and public places
    • Poor communication skills
    • Irrational fears and phobias

    HOW CAN YOU GET OVER YOUR ANXIETY ISSUES?

    Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet full of probiotics, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, and fermented foods can help curb your anxiety to a certain level.

    Limit your caffeine intake as much as possible. Steer your way clear of smoking, drugs, weed, and drinking since these habits only add to your anxiety in the long run.

    Meditation and yoga work wonders for an anxious and restless mind. It gives you some time to relax and dwell on the happenings of your surroundings while keeping a sane head.

    Also, meditation has been known to reduce the occurrence of panic attacks in people dealing with anxiety and other mental disorders. Just a few minutes of mindful meditation each day can greatly reduce your daily anxiety issues in the long run.

    Why are college students more vulnerable to falling prey to depression and anxiety?

    As per a recent report, the college students of today have the same anxiety levels as that of a patient in a mental institution in the 1950s. in addition to that, the prevalence of reported anxiety disorders in college students have seen a 1200% rise since 1980!

    Also, 1 in 5 students at the university is stressed and depressed and have attempted suicide at least once in their lives.  Where so many students in educational institutions are tensed and depressed regarding themselves and their careers, there is definitely something going wrong.

    Owing to the kind of lifestyle we live today, our students are exposed to a whole lot of other things besides school, college, and classes. These aspects tend to influence their way of thinking leading to mental issues like depression and anxiety.

    • Social media:

    The younger generation is quite dominant on social media. It gives them a space to speak their mind, have healthy debates by voicing their opinions, and show the beautiful aspects of their lives too. However, many youngsters compare their natural and busy lives to that of the people uploading fancy pictures on social media.

    Everyone only displays the good side of their lives, leaving out the bad, creating an impression that their lives are perfect, flawless, and straight out of a movie reel. But youngsters fail to realize that they are comparing somebody else’s final and fancy movie to the blueprints of their own lives.

    Over time, this goes on to transform into depression and saddening issues, especially with people who tend to take social media very seriously.

    You may want to read: How social media is destroying your child’s education

    • Substance abuse:

    Using drugs, smoking, drinking, and consuming weed is not an uncommon sight in the college students of today as far as the current scenario is concerned. But there’s a world of difference between using these substances and abusing them.

    Drug abuse is one of the leading causes of depression in the younger population. Not only doe it messes up with your cognitive abilities but takes a toll on your emotional quotient as well. It leads to a downfall in productivity levels while causing low self-esteem too.

    • Career pressure:

    With the heavy competition faced by the generation of today, the millennials are under great pressure to perform well. Their parents and teachers expect nothing but the best from them which leads to severe mental tension.

    Being in college, most students don’t have healthy communication skills to convince their elders of their choice of careers. In addition to that, they lack the vision for the long-term. Although these are pretty normal aspects of any youngster’s life, these become too much to handle for a person who is still struggling between getting good grades on an exam and a job or two.

    All in all, such emotions accumulate over time and lead to low self-confidence, bad communication skills, wrong choice of careers, and little to no professional guidance. This, in turn, causes mental health issues like depression and anxiety in most kids.

    • Peer pressure:

    Ragging and bullying is a real problem. And the bullies are often kids who are undergoing severe mental stress themselves. In addition to that, friends play a huge role in influencing the life of any college kid. They may lead you to happy and positive vibes, studying well, good grades, and overall healthy companionship.

    Or, in the worst-case scenario, they could become the cause of you falling prey to substance abuse and other self-harming habits that eventually take a toll on your mental and physical health as well. Depression and anxiety are quite common in such students/

    Which is why, you need to choose your friends wisely since they can either make you or break you during your college years.

    What can be done to curb this issue in the younger population?

    Many students, with the fear of being bullied and made fun of, choose to remain silent about any mental issues that they may be battling with. This results in serious consequences of ill-health in the long run. 

    Students need to be told that there is nothing wrong about being depressed. It is just like any other physical ailment and will eventually get better with the right medical aid and social help. 

    • Create social awareness regarding mental health Educate students in schools and colleges that such issues are common and tips they can use to keep a sane head.
    • Career guidance and counselling work wonders for students whose depression and anxiety stems from being worried about the future for too long.
    • Talk therapy and at therapy courses can be introduced in schools and colleges with sessions occurring once a week to give students a break and allow them some time to relax and unwind.
    • The claims of any student about being depressed, tensed, stressed, or having social anxiety, or suicidal tendencies must never be taken lightly at all costs. This holds true for both students and teachers
    • Colleges and universities need to make arrangements for medical aid for students who may be dealing with any sort of mental issues on a personal level.

    Summing it up:

    Although dealing with depression and anxiety is easier than it seems, it is really not impossible. The underlying requirement to emerge victories of their mental disorders is to be willing to make the required changes in your lifestyle.

    As long as your mind is on your side and you intend to set right your condition, you will definitely make it better with time. Also, depression and anxiety cannot go away by themselves.

    You compulsorily need medical aid and professional help to pull you out of it lest you want it to hamper all other aspects of your life too. In addition to that, ensure that you keep a good outlook and expect a better future.

    Incorporate small daily changes in your lifestyle, start exercising, eating healthy, communicating, and using the amazing non-medical therapies for treatment. Talk therapy, art therapy, aromatherapy, and psychotherapy work amazingly well in this regard. Use them, and you’ll soon be on your way to recovery!

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