Breaking the stigma: Dealing with depression

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Meshach Roberts | Staff Writer

Most college students feel that they have experienced some form of depression or anxiety.

In 2011, the American College Health Association–National College Health Assessment found that about 30 percent of college students reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function” at some time in the past year.  Based on probability, it is estimated that more than 30 percent of students experience depression.

Moderate or slight depression can also creep itself into the lives of college students if they are unaware of the symptoms or coping methods.

Loss of interest in things usually enjoyed, change of appetite, disturbance in sleep and extreme sadness are all universal symptoms of depression, according to Assistant Professor of Psychology, Dr. Leah Floyd Campbell.

The high percentage of students who experience depression makes many wonder if college students are more susceptible to mental illness.

When speaking about the issue, Dr. Campbell said, “Given that most college students are in the developmental stage of young adulthood and are facing challenges of defining who they are it can make them more susceptible for depression and anxiety.”

Stress is also an important factor of depression and anxiety that affects college students every day. Having to deal with the struggles of balancing class, social life, organizations, lack of finances and sleep can take a toll on anyone. Having healthy methods of dealing with stress is imperative to keeping sound mental health.

Many students however have negative methods of dealing with stress. Anthony Winn, a junior, kinesiology major from Brooklyn, New York said “It’s common to see students smoke, drink and party just to forget about the struggles from the week.” The college culture establishes a hazy of casual drinking and being an alcoholic or occasionally smoking and drug addiction. Eventually, the excuse of “it’s just college” will slowly slip away.

Fortunately, many students have found healthier ways to cope with stress. “When I am stressed I work out or watch Netflix,” said Winn.  The American Heart Association suggests positive self-talk, daily relaxation, pleasurable hobbies and deep breathing as effective ways of dealing with stress.

When dealing with depression, anxiety, or even grief, talking to someone and venting can do wonders for one’s mental health. The Student Counseling Center offers individual professional counseling free of charge to Hampton University students. All information and records are confidential and only discussed between the counselor and the students.

Other groups that also assist in helping students talk out their problems include: Depression OutReach Alliance (DORA) Campus Program for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, and the Peer Counselor Organization, whose members function as peer educators and supporters rather than advice givers and/or counselors.

Although many opportunities are available to students, sometimes they are  not always the best option, according to Dr. Linda Kirkland-Harris, Director of Hampton University Student Counseling Center.

“My experience consistently has been that students, faculty, and staff  are the primary comforters for one another.”

If you are depressed or going through a hard time or need to talk, do not be afraid to get help. More importantly, if you are thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or if one of your friends or family members are experiencing the same symptoms encourage them to call the number. It just might save someone’s life.

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