Stress and depression are serious obstacles that many college students deal with at one time or another. You are not alone. Learn how you can overcome these obstacles, stay happy, and maintain peace of mind throughout your college career.
Stress overview Accordion Closed
Factors in our environment trigger a stress response. These triggers are called stressors. Stressors are not necessarily negative, such as falling in love or winning a sports game. Moreover, people differ in the amount of stress they experience. A situation that is stressful for one person might not be stressful for another. For example, a roller coaster ride or parachuting may be very stressful for you, while a friend may find it exciting.
Short-term stress often has a way of showing up as a number of physical symptoms in the body, ranging from an increased heart rate to an upset stomach to muscle tension and pain. Long-term stress (when left unaddressed) can lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, ulcers, and loss of sleep. You can read more about the short- and long-term impacts of stress on the body. Each person will feel stress differently, and understanding how you feel stress is an important first step in recognizing when you feel stressed out.
36.5%of NAU students reported that stress impacted their academic performance in 2017 (ACHA-NCHA II 2019, n=529).
Stay organized to prevent stress Accordion Closed
Being a student can be stressful. Classes, homework, work, a social life, and everything in between – It can be a lot to handle. Knowing how to manage your time can help you juggle all the things you have to do. Consider doing some of the following:
- Get a planner: Go through your syllabi from all classes and writing down due dates for your assignments. Write down other important dates and even your work schedule.
- Create a to-do list: Write down all the things you need to do. It also helps you remember everything!
- Prioritize: What’s more important? List out things from most important to not as important and focus on the top of the list first.
- Check it off or cross it out: There’s satisfaction in completing something so when you’re able to check it off or cross it off your list. Check it off and congratulate yourself for a job well done!
Stressed out? Elicit the relaxation response! Accordion Closed
Simple activities, including deep breathing, meditation, and exercise are all activities that can help us feel calm when we notice a stress response beginning to build.
Depression overview Accordion Closed
Depression may result in feelings of emptiness, crying without any apparent reason, and loss of pleasure from daily life.
At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Depression affects about 19 million American adults each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Depression manifests itself through a variety of symptoms. The most common are deep feelings of sadness, and a marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities. Other symptoms include:
- Changes in appetite that result in weight losses or gains unrelated to dieting
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or oversleeping
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Restlessness or irritability
- Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
You can be depressed without actually feeling sad. Instead, a lot of people become irritable, angry, or lose interest in activities that they enjoyed before. For this reason, it may not always be easy to recognize depression in yourself, a friend, or somebody you know.
How to help a friend
Are you concerned about a friend? Individuals in crisis frequently experience overwhelming emotions including sadness, pain, anger, hopelessness, fear and anxiety. They may also feel isolated, alone and misunderstood. It is important to identify warning signs that necessitate an immediate intervention.
Warning signs Accordion Closed
- A statement indicating a person is thinking about suicide, such as “I wish this was all over” or “I don’t want to wake up anymore”
- Dramatic changes in mood
- Increased drug/alcohol use
- Acting reckless
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Feeling trapped and hopeless
- Suffering a major loss
- Seeking access to pills, weapons, or other self-destructive means
If you think someone you know may be considering suicide Accordion Closed
- Take all comments about suicide seriously, including those made on social media.
- Ask directly “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
- Listen to the person. Help them feel understood. Let them know you care.
- Avoid judging.
- Do not leave a suicidal person alone.
- Refer them to professional help. NAU Counseling Services offers “Walk-In” appointments.
- Don’t ignore comments about suicide or self-harm made on social media sides. You can reach out to site administrators to report comments on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Take the threat seriously, and treat an online comment the same way as you would in person.
- If someone is threatening their own life, this is an emergency. You should bring your friend to the emergency room or call 911 immediately.
You don’t have to help your friend on your own: encourage your friend to speak to someone in a professional role on campus or call counseling services and consult with a professional.
How to talk to a friend Accordion Closed
Help your friend heal by expressing your concern and encouraging them to seek help.
- State your concern: Objectively describe what you observe in your friend, and express your concern.
- Inquire: Ask your friend what is wrong or how you can help.
- Listen without judgment: Try not to agree or disagree with their behavior, simply listen to them.
- Empathize: Communicate your understanding.
- Offer them hope: Encourage them to keep talking, and to reach out to others who care about them.
- Suggest that they visit Counseling Services: Remind them that the first visit is free and confidential.
What do you do if a friend is reluctant? Accordion Closed
Simply tell your friend that you care about them. Acknowledge and discuss your friend’s concerns about seeking help. Your friend may be defensive or ambivalent: understand that your friend’s defensiveness may be based on their feelings and is not directed at you. Look for signs that your friend is reaching out for help. It can be a challenge to help a friend with a mental health or substance problem. Don’t be discouraged. Remember that it is up to your friend to make a change, and you can’t do it for them.
Flagstaff Area Crisis Numbers
- 24-Hour NAU Counseling Services: 928-523-2261
- NAU Police: 928-523-3611
- Crisis Response Network: 877-756-4090
National Crisis Numbers
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or text “Start” to 741-741
- The Trevor Lifeline (Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ Youth) 1-866-488-7386
- Veterans’ Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
81%of students seen in Counseling Services agree or strongly agree that they are making healthier lifestyle choices as a result of their experience (NAU Counseling Services Survey, 2019)