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In a college atmosphere, stress comes easily. Tests and projects all seem to pile up at once and social obligations among friends, clubs and work keep students busy. Although these situations often create stress and anxiety, some individuals face more severe symptoms that could stem from mental illness. Mental illness affects mental and emotional conditions and often requires treatment in order for improvement (1). Some mental health disorders include depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorder, all of which affect individuals on a daily basis. Living with a mental illness can make daily tasks more difficult, but with the proper treatment and therapy, many of the symptoms can diminish and allow the individual to begin living a less stressful life again.
A common mental illness among college aged students is depression. This disorder often begins between the ages of 15 and 30 and encompasses a variety of physical and emotional symptoms that are difficult to control. Sadness is often mistaken as depression, but an individual suffering from this illness can go weeks with feeling depressed.
Some symptoms of depression include:
When someone has these symptoms, it makes everyday tasks and social interactions more difficult.. Although depression can make someone feel hopeless, attempt to reach out. It is important to gain support from family and friends, as well as making healthy lifestyle changes. These changes could be eating healthy, exercising, maintaining a regular sleep schedule and managing stress. It is also important to seek help from a doctor or therapist. With the right treatment and medication, illnesses like depression can be managed and everyday activities can become enjoyable once again.
Individuals can also be affected by other illnesses that make everyday tasks more complicated. Many face anxiety, but there is a difference between normal worries and the worries of a person who suffers from anxiety disorder. Often, anxiety disorders cause worry that disrupts jobs, activities or social life. A person with this illness worries about all sorts of things and the worry is a constant battle every day for at least six months.
The physical symptoms include:
Often times anxiety levels are mild, making it easier to function socially and continue with daily tasks. In cases when the anxiety levels are severe, even the simplest of tasks can seem impossible. This illness is seen in twice as many women as men, but a total of 18.1 percent of American adults suffer from Anxiety disorder. When diagnosed with anxiety, it is best to seek help from a mental health professional who can use behavioral therapy techniques to help soothe symptoms. Medications can also be prescribed if the physician feels it will be most beneficial to the patient.
Another common disorder is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, where an individual has unwanted persistent thoughts (obsessions) and can also have the need to participate in repetitive behaviors (compulsions). The agonizing persistence of OCD “rituals” only provide temporary relief, so these habits are performed consistently by individuals with OCD to release tension. A common misconception is that these rituals are all physical acts, but they can even include thoughts of violence, sexual acts or opposed actions of one’s religious beliefs (3). Many healthy people have such rituals, but the difference with sufferers of OCD is that it often interferes with everyday tasks. OCD is seen in about 2.2 million Americans, affecting men and women equally.
There are many other mental health disorders that can be addressed and maintained like the ones mentioned above. It is said that 26.2% of adults 18 and older are diagnosed with a mental disorder every year.
These disorders are common, and if you feel as if you may be suffering from any of these disorders, or others not mentioned, be sure to seek treatment.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Maintain Mental Health. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/family/college/?s_cid=ecard_BTS3#mental
National Institute of Mental Health. (2012). Mental Health Information. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/index.shtml
National Institute of Mental Health. (2009). Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad.shtml
National Institute of Mental Health.(2009).Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/obsessive-compulsive-disorder.shtml