Students manage stress, anxiety

Story by Molly Lamoureux

Stress manifests itself in multiple ways: over-eating, worrying, not being able to fall asleep. The list goes on.

With a college student’s demanding schedule and endless evenings of homework and commitments, it’s important to be able to determine “stress” from a diagnosable mental illness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1-in-4 people between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness.

The most common are anxiety and depression.

With such a high percentage of college students suffering from anxiety, depression or other serious mental illness, only about 40 percent of these cases are diagnosed by a physician.

Some students can suffer from these illnesses and not be aware  anything is wrong. They do not seek medical attention.

Some students are aware that they are suffering from anxiety or depression but refuse to seek help due to embarrassment or pride.

Drake University’s Health Center offers services to help in any stage of diagnosis or recovery of anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.

Doctors at the Health Center can help determine the level of help a student may need, prescribe medication if necessary, conduct checkups and coordinate information with any of the three mental health counselors if the student chooses.

If a student seeks on-campus counseling, he or she may choose from any of three mental health counselors.

Specializing in different areas, Mark Kloberdanz, Melissa Nord and Diane Eischeid are all experienced therapists and are able to accommodate to each individual’s specific needs.

Eischeid specializes in grief and loss, intimate personal violence, and trauma processing.

“College is a prime age for [anxiety and depression] symptoms to come to the surface. It has a lot to do with the sudden changes and new stresses of a new lifestyle,” Eischeid said.

Since it is common for students with anxiety or depression to not want counseling or additional help, there are other means of recovery that they can try by themselves.

Eischeid highly recommends the deep breathing technique: Take a deep breath in and hold it for as long as you comfortably can with the shoulders up around the ears.

When breathing out, do so slowly while lowering the shoulders and relaxing the back muscles as much as possible.

NAMI also offers a variety of self-help and therapeutic techniques to de-stress.

If a friend or family member discloses feelings of serious depression or anxiety, the best thing to do is to act normal.

It is important to remember he or she is still the same person and their illness does not define them.

Encourage them to seek help and to take good care of themselves through their exercising, eating, and sleeping habits.

Levels of depression and anxiety vary from person to person.

According to NAMI, 7 percent of college students reported “seriously considering” suicide in 2012.

This does not include the students who had suicidal thoughts.

If a friend or family member confides thoughts or feelings of suicide, it’s important to use good judgment according to the situation.

Do not hesitate to call 911 or campus security at 515-271-2222 if this situation arises.

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