MENTAL HEALTH: ANXIETY & DEPRESSION
Most people experience feelings of anxiety before an important event, such as a big exam, presentation or social event. Anxiety disorders, however, are illnesses that interfere with daily activities and are characterized by chronic, unremitting anxiety and fear.
Anxiety is a feeling of tension or apprehension in response to a perceived threat. The anxiety reaction is part of the “fight or flight” response that enables you to respond rapidly when faced with danger, and also occurs when the demands of life feel greater than your ability to cope and deal with them. Most people feel some anxiety in their daily lives and shouldn’t be concerned about experiencing a moderate amount. Many students, for example, experience some level of tension or nervousness before tests or other important events. A little anxiety can actually help motivate us and make us more alert, but too much anxiety can interfere with our ability to prepare for and perform on tests.
People with an anxiety disorder have persistent, intense and irrational feelings of anxiety that are uncontrollable. When anxiety leads to significant distress or disturbance in academic, social, or other important areas of functioning, it may be an anxiety disorder, and a health professional should be consulted to determine if an anxiety disorder exists. Anxiety disorders, as a group, are the most common mental illness in America and often accompany other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, or phobias.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders:
- Repeated, random panic attacks, feelings of terror or impending doom
- Chronic worry or anticipation about having another panic attack
- Embarrassment, humiliation, or concern over everyday social situations that pose little or no threat of danger
- Fear or avoidance of an object, place or situation that poses little or no threat
- Constant, chronic and unsubstantiated worry
- Uncontrollable, repetitive action, such as washing one’s hands repeatedly or checking things over and over
- Nightmares, flashbacks, or emotional numbing related to a traumatic event
In general, two types of treatment are available for an anxiety disorder: medication and specific types of psychotherapy. Both approaches can be effective for most anxiety disorders. The choice of one or the other, or both, depends on individual and doctor preference, and the particular anxiety disorder.
Depression is a common, highly treatable illness affecting the way a person feels emotionally and physically. Depression can co-occur with anxiety disorders, eating disorders or substance abuse.
Depression is an illness involving the body, mood, and thoughts. It can affect the way you eat, sleep, feel, and think about yourself, others, and the future. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood or feelings of sadness caused by the loss of a loved one or the break up of a relationship. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. Left untreated, depressive symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years, and the consequences can be deadly—depression is a common risk factor for suicide. With appropriate treatment, however, most people recover from depression. A depressive disorder can be triggered by major life changes, traumatic events, hormonal changes, psychosocial stressors, or the presence of another illness. Substance abuse, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders can co-occur with or be worsened by depression.
It is estimated that 10% of college students have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder. Women are almost twice as likely as men to become depressed.
Symptoms of depression:
- Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
- Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
- Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
- Hopelessness, pessimism, indifference
- Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
- Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
- Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
It is common to feel some of these symptoms from time to time, but if you experience 5 or more of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks or if any of these symptoms interfere with work or social activities, you should consult with a doctor for a thorough examination.
Treatment of depression may include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of strategies. The right treatment is the one that works best for you. Some people have to try several treatments before they can make this determination. Once the right strategy has been determined, depression is extremely responsive to treatment. With proper care, approximately 80 percent of people with a depressive disorder experience significant improvement.
QPR SUICIDE PREVENTION TRAINING
QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer. QPR is a nationally recognized suicide prevention program that is designed to save lives through: increasing awareness about suicide risk factors and warning signs, teaching participants how to talk to someone about suicide, and educating participants on how to facilitate appropriate mental health referrals. Recently, a group of MU faculty, staff, and administrators were trained as QPR trainers. In just under two hours, these individuals can effectively train groups of students, staff, faculty or administrators to be QPR Gatekeepers. Once trained, the Gatekeepers will have the knowledge needed to assist a friend or neighbor in crisis. For more information about QPR training, visit http://www.marquette.edu/counseling/suicideprevention.shtml.
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