Mental Health

Depression

 

Everyone experiences sadness once in a while. Depression is more than a passing blue mood, it is a constant down in the dumps feeling that affects the mind and body. People with a depressive disorder can not just get over it and get better. Left untreated, symptoms can get progressively worse.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

Causes:

These is no one single cause of depression. It can be one of many or a combination of factors including:

  • Family history
  • Trauma
  • Stressful life circumstances
  • Pessimistic personality
  • Physical conditions
  • Other mental problems

Treatment:

Depression is usually treated by medication and therapy
Exercise helps improve mood too.

 

 

Eating Disorders

Anorexia

Anorexia is an eating disorder in which one refuses to stay at the minimal of the healthy weight range for one's height and age. It is characterized by the fear of gaining weight and disorted body image.

Symptoms of Anorexia include:

  • Weight loss of 15% or greater below the expected weight
  • Inappropriate use of laxatives, enemas, or diuretics (water pills) in an effort to lose weight
  • Self-imposed food intake restrictions, often hidden
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Skeletal muscle atrophy
  • Loss of fatty tissue
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dental cavities may be present with self-induced vomiting
  • Blotchy or yellow skin
  • Depression may be present in addition to the eating disorder
  • Most individuals with anorexia nervosa refuse to recognize that they have an eating disorder (denial)

Causes:

One specific cause of anorexia has not been pinpointed. It seems to be a combination of factors inlcuding family factors, perfectionist personality, and social pressures. Anorexia is most commonly seen in adolescent and young adult caucasian women.

Treatment:

Treatment for anorexia inlcudes treating both physical and mental problems. Body weight must be restored and treatment of any medical conditions such as dehydration or heart complications are done. Medication, therapy, and support groups are used in treating the disease. Depending on the severity, one may be placed in a treatment facility for the disorder.

 

Bulimia

Bulimia is an eating disorder in which one binges on large amounts of food and purges through compensatory behaviors such as vomiting, using laxitives or diuretics, or over exercising. The binge purge cycle may occur from several times a month to several times a day.

Symptoms:

  • Binge eating
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Inappropriate use of diuretics or laxatives
  • Overachieving behavior
  • Complications:
  • Pancreatitis
  • Dental cavities
  • Inflammation of the throat
  • Electrolyte abnormalities
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Esophageal tears

Treatment:

Treatment inlcudes treating physical conditions, and breaking up the binge purge cycle. This may be done through mediactions, behavior change techniques, and/or therapy.

 

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder in which one constantly over eats, even when not hugry and past the point of fullness. During a binge a person often eats alone and more rapidly than normal.

Signs/Symptoms

  • Eating until the point of discomfort or pain
  • Eating much more food during a binge episode than during a normal meal or snack
  • Eating faster during binge episodes
  • Feeling that their eating behavior is out of control
  • Frequent dieting without weight loss
  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • Frequently eating alone
  • Hoarding food
  • Hiding empty food containers
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted or upset over the amount eaten
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Weight gain

Complications:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • gallbladder disease
  • heart disease
  • certain types of cancer

Causes:

Causes for binge eating disorder include dpression, poor coping skills, dieting, and family factors.

Treatment:

Treatment may include a combination of therapy and medications to treat the disorder.

 

Anxiety

Anxiety is a constant feeling of fear that is the main symptom in many anxiety disorders inlcuding:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)

Symptoms for anxiety include:

  • Excessive, ongoing worry and tension
  • An unrealistic view of problems
  • Restlessness or a feeling of being "edgy"
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea
  • The need to go to the bathroom frequently
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Trembling
  • Being easily startled

Symptoms of an anxiety attack include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations or pounding heart
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or stomach distress
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Hot or cold flashes

Causes:

  • stress/trauma
  • biological factors
  • genetics
  • personality traits

Treatment:

Therapy, medication, relaxation techniques

 

 

Stress

Stress is body’s response to physical and psychological change. Stress can occur regardless of whether the change is good or bad. Many events during college put students at risk for increased stress.

Symptoms of stress:

  • increase or decrease in sleep increase or decrease in appetite
  • increased use of alcohol increased fatigue inability to concentrate mood swings
  • changes in exercise habits frequent head, back, or muscle ache indigestion, diarrhea frequent accidents and injuries
  • hostile or angry feeling restlessness and anxiety
  • change in moods

 

Stress Management Techniques:

  • take a break to relax and refresh
  • think positive
  • make a to do list and prioritize
  • ask for help
  • practice relaxation techniques meditate
  • manage your time
  • don’t procrastinate
  • exercise
  • get plenty of rest
  • eat a healthy diet
  • set realistic expectations
  • identify your stressors and try to avoid them
  • balance school and other responsibilities
  • counseling may be helpful in times of extreme stress.

 

Prolonged stress can lead to many health problems including decreased immunity which increases risk for infections, mental problems such as depression and anxiety, and heart and digestive problems.