By Sondra Stipcak, Director of Health Services
Each year, the American College Health Association conducts a national survey to gauge the health and well-being of U.S. college students. One area the survey tracks is mental health. Of the 95,000 students who participated in the spring 2016 assessment, 37 percent of students stated it was hard to function due to depression and 58 percent reported feeling overwhelming anxiety within the past 12 months. On the Lycoming campus, the staff at the health and counseling centers also sees students struggling with anxiety and depression.
Lycoming College supports students with anxiety or depression by offering counseling services, as well as medical providers to diagnose and prescribe medications for anxiety or depression.
Although everyone feels sad on occasion, people with depression have symptoms daily or most days for at least two weeks. Depression can look different in different people but some typical symptoms include:
- feeling sad or hopeless
- loss of interest in activities
- difficulty concentrating or having poor academic performance
- sleep difficulties
- change in eating habits
- feeling irritable
Fortunately, there are treatment options for people with anxiety or depression. One option is psychotherapy or “talk therapy.” Working with a qualified counselor can help identify negative thoughts and behaviors, find healthy ways to problem solve and cope with stress, and to explore and improve relationships. Another option is medication. Antidepressant medications generally take 3-4 weeks to become effective. People may need to try several different medications (or a combination of medications) before finding what works.
What can parents do to help?
- understand it may be difficult for parents to recognize symptoms since students are away at school
- listen — provide support and encouragement
- encourage your son or daughter to seek help at school, or with his or her family doctor
- don’t ignore comments about suicide
- encourage him or her to adhere to treatment plans (go to counseling, take medication, etc.)
Remember, if left untreated, anxiety and depression could worsen, which may lead to additional health, academic or behavioral issues. Students who want help with problems or issues should contact Lycoming College's Health Services.