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Active Minds: How to beat stress and depression


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By MICHAELA COWDEN

Contributing Writer

cowdenm@allegheny.edu

 

With the school year’s end rapidly approaching, the pressure is definitely on.

Professors are squeezing in the last of their material and students are scrambling to complete assignments. And while summer, in our minds, should be a period of care-free  living, it is often filled with stressors all its own. Finding a job, landing an internship, taking summer classes and readjusting to living in your parents’ home again can all take its toll. We, as members of Active Minds, are aware of what a build-up of these stressors can do, and want to make you aware of the signs of stress overload and what to do if you’re almost at your breaking point.

Stress is often associated with feelings of anger,  moodiness or feelings momentarily overwhelmed, but what too few people are aware of is the major implications stress can have on a person’s body. In a single moment, without any warning, your whole world can feel like it’s ending due to too much stress. It can lead to anxiety disorders such as, generalized anxiety and panic disorder or it can lead to depression. Some of the physical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include pounding heart beat, sweating, upset stomach, diarrhea, shortness of breath, muscle tension, headaches, fatigue and insomnia. Panic disorder expands upon those symptoms and also includes surge of overwhelming panic, heart palpitations, trouble breathing, choking sensations, hyperventilation, and many more symptoms.

Depression can cause feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, loss of interest, appetite or weight changes, sleep changes, reckless behavior, concentration problems and unexplained aches and pains.

All of these listed symptoms can severely impact daily life, as well as quality of life. Not letting stress spiral out of control is very important. Here are some signs of stress overload:

Memory problems, poor concentration, racing thoughts, constant worrying, moodiness, irritability, agitation, loneliness, isolation, unhappiness, aches, pains, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, frequent colds, eating more or  less, sleeping too much or too little, neglecting responsibilities, nervous habits and many more.

Constant stress and feeling overwhelmed every day is not normal. You do not have to suffer from those feelings. Your body is most likely sending you signals that it is about to experience a break down. Make sure you listen to your body and take care of yourself. Healthy eating, getting enough sleep and regular exercise are the best ways to combat stress.

If you recognize any of the symptoms listed above in yourself or in someone you know, Active Minds encourages you to address them right away. The last thing you want is to spend your summer cooped up in the house because stress has gotten the best of you. The best thing you can do is to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss the symptoms you are experiencing. Your doctor will be able to refer you to someone for psychotherapy sessions, or prescribe appropriate medications to treat your condition. And of course, there are always hotlines for you to call if you ever feel like you need someone to talk to.

We, as the members of Active Minds, hope that you have found this article helpful and that it serves as a resource for mental health issues. For further questions, comments, or resources, feel free to send us an email at activeminds@allegheny.edu.

Here are some national, anonymous hotlines that are available to you 24/7:

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance External Website Policy

Phone: 800-826-3632

 

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders External Website Policy

Phone: 847-831-3438

 

National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Phone: 802-296-6300

 

National Eating Disorders Association Information and Referral Helpline External Website Policy

Phone: 800-931-2237

 

National Domestic Violence Hotline External Website Policy

Phone: 800-799-SAFE

 

National Sexual Assault Hotline External Website Policy

Phone: 800-656-HOPE

 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline External Website Policy

Phone: 800-273-TALK

 

 

 

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Active Minds: How to beat stress and depression