Stay Aware of Mental Health

By Ian Conrardy

Studies show a marked increase in depression amongst college students and it comes from both cognitive and life-based factors.

In a July 2018 study titled “Response Pattern of Depressive Symptoms Among College Students…” in the Journal of Affective Disorders, it states that four-in-five college students report the presence of depressive symptoms. Loss of sleep, loss of interest and on rare occasion suicidal thoughts were exhibited among the participants in the study.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last updated April 2018, “Depression is more than just feeling down or having a bad day. When a sad mood lasts for a long time and interferes with normal, everyday functioning, you may be depressed.”

Some cognitive factors might include the following symptoms: feeling irritable, easily frustrated or restless; having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, having trouble concentrating, remembering details or making decisions; feeling guilty, worthless or helpless; or thinking about suicide or hurting oneself, according to the CDC.

Some life-based factors might creep in and cause some debilitating effects including the following: having trouble eating properly with a healthy appetite, waking up too early or sleeping too much, not wanting to do activities that used to be fun, or experiencing aches and pains that are unexplainable, according to the CDC.

“The exact cause of depression is unknown,” as stated on the CDC’s website. “It may be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors.” Some may include having blood relatives who have had depression, experiencing trauma or major life changes, or medical or physical issues.

College of Southern Nevada student Taylor Cayro personally struggled with both anxiety and depression.

“I remember when I had my first anxiety attack a long time ago and it was such an emotional wreck of a feeling and I kept trying to be strong, I think,” Cayro said. “I kept trying to think ‘Oh I got this. I don’t need help. I’m good. I don’t have anxiety problems. I’m mentally stable.’ But it has nothing to do with being mentally stable. It has nothing to do with you being strong. It has everything to do with the fact that your body is telling you stop. You need to change something.”

Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, at CSN is an essential program that provides treatment to students suffering anxiety and depression among other issues.

The Director of CAPS Dr. Daniel Alvarado said, “Mental health is linked to academic success. Students in distress who don’t self-identify by coming into CAPS experience lower grades, receive incompletes or drop their courses all together. Therefore, students should place a priority on maintaining their mental health while in college.” He stresses the importance of being self-aware of strengths and weaknesses and encourages students to seek help when needed.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Nicole Vaughn, who works in Las Vegas treating patients with depression, commented on the importance of mental-health management. “It is just as important as breathing. It intertwines with every other body system. It affects your well-being as well as your physical health. I tell my patients ‘If your mind is healthy, you can get through anything’.”

Vaughn has some tips to manage stress and mental health. Stay surrounded by positive people who are willing to offer good support. Develop open and honest communication with self and parents. Stay calm and evaluate the situation and ask for help if needed then make the appropriate decision. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. “Understand that mental illness affects one-in-four people in the world so remember you are not alone.”

For students who need support or help contact CAPS at https://www.csn.edu/caps.

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