Confronting Anxiety and Depression in College

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Hannah Bellich

I couldn’t tell you how many times I have been told “college is the best four years of your life.”

Now, I do agree that the years we all spend in college are jam-packed with great experiences such as gaining independence, broadening your knowledge and making many great memories, but there are also many factors that pose difficulties for many students. As if making friends, choosing classes and trying to get involved around campus aren’t enough to cause great amounts of stress, adding on the actual class time and study load to one’s very busy life can be enough to push some students over the edge.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that over 40 percent of college students have noticed that their stress levels have risen over the past year and a staggering 80 percent of college students have reported feeling overwhelmed by all of their responsibilities. I can say that I adhere to both statistics. Being a transfer student from Santa Barbara City College, this is my first year at a university. Being thrown into a brand new environment with professors having new expectations while trying to figure out how to manage my time under the quarter system has been a great factor in contributing not only to overwhelming feelings, but also contributing to the heightening of my levels of stress overall.

With this being my fourth week at UCSB, I can definitely say that my stress levels have risen significantly when compared to my time at Santa Barbara City College. In my opinion, the professors at the city college still held their students hands and had fairly lower expectations when comparing to the professor’s expectations at UCSB. I have noticed that I feel anxious more often and even though I am completely exhausted when I lay down for bed at night, my brain can’t stop thinking about all of my responsibilities as a student.

For example, my mind is always analyzing what coursework needs to be done and when, in addition to planning study time for midterms in between classes, and sometimes I even agonize over the fact that I feel like I did not accomplish enough even though I was at school for around 10 hours.

As I have been experiencing significantly higher levels of stress lately in addition to much more prevalent anxiety, I’ve been looking for a way to lower them. One such place I’ve tried was UCSB’s Counseling and Psychological Services, which has many different services to aid in enhancing students’ mental health. The friendly, helpful staff and de-stressing setting gave me confidence in knowing that I can touch base with someone when I feel overwhelmed or stressed out — which is important for mental health.

Although there are still overwhelming aspects of university life, CAPS has been instrumental in helping me work through it. I’m learning that it’s important to take care of myself when dealing with symptoms of anxiety and depression, whether that be saving time in my day to go to yoga, reading a book of choice or even simply ensuring that I can get an adequate amount of sleep.

It’s been difficult to adjust to all of the changes that university life has to offer, but I’ve realized that it is important to work toward achieving a healthy mental state. Slowly but surely, I am beginning to see changes in my mental state as I am working on lowering my stress levels and coping with the changes that stem from the move to a University; I can definitely say that college is already becoming much more enjoyable as I learn to manage my levels of stress and anxiety.

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