TIP OF THE MONTH
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety is a natural human emotion and everyone at some point suffers from stress, this is especially true for students. But developing reoccurring periods of “attacks” caused from elevated levels of negative or intense emotions can be taxing to your health. In many cases, those suffering from reoccurring panic or anxiety attacks can also develop severe depression, putting them at risk of suicidal behavior. It does not have to be as scary as it sounds, there are ways to prevent its escalation and manage your stress.
Going beyond normal woes, anxiety that should concern you includes an overwhelming worry, obsessive fear, or constant panic. Intense levels of stress and panic attacks can lead to problems in development, relationships, and schoolwork; these relationship problems can escalate to isolation from not only things causing you to stress but from others in your life as well.
Panic attacks often develop without warning and can last for either minutes or days. There are physical associations with these attacks as well; typically rapid heartbeat or palpitations, shortness in breathing, cold or clammy hands, bodily shaking, and dizziness or feeling faint can occur before, during or after a panic attack. Attacks should be treated as important matters, for if left untreated, you can be putting yourself in great risk for dangerous consequences. In mild cases, a simple discussion of your stresses can leave you feeling better; it is common that during periods of intense stress, such as finals week, past anxieties have the possibilities of resurfacing, adding to your stress level. So it’s best to take care of them when they occur.
Stress and anxiety reduction is a serious concern for those who feel they are drowning from it; some students make the wrong turn into alcohol or other drugs to take the edge off. When measures are serious, this can send some spiraling further into a depressive state. Depression occurs in 20% of teens before they even become adults; and though your personal history and the history of that of your family may play a role in depression risk, there are many different forms of depression that anyone under stress is at risk for.
Depression can range from the mild seasonal depression, which is most common during the winter months, to a more severe clinical depression, which affects 5% of teens at any one time; in between those two extremes we also find, Dysthymia (a less severe form of clinical depression), Adjustment disorder (an emotional response to a traumatic challenge), and Bipolar disorder (an emotional high-low imbalance). Depression is treatable. If not completely curable, you can still learn to manage and maintain the episode you suffer from.
Perhaps most important with depression treatment, is classification; if you are treated for clinical depression and instead suffer from bipolar disorder, your depression could worsen or spark an extreme episode. Treatment opinions can involve mood stabilizing prescriptions or psychotherapy- or a discussion leading to anxiety reduction techniques. Everyone does get depressed at some point, but a feeling of hopelessness and a lack of concern for not only yourself but for those around you, is not okay.
Please seek help if you are suffering from anxiety or depression. Call the Gable Health and Counseling Center at (610) 921-7532 for further information.
The above information is compiled from various sources, including WebMD, teendepression.org, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
- Nicole Kelly ‘12
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