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The Top 5 Mental Health Challenges for College Students and Their Remedies
‘4 out of 5 college students either contemplate or attempt suicide’
‘Suicide is the third leading cause of death among college students’
‘1 out of every 4 students suffers from some form of mental illness’
‘Youngsters are diagnosed with depression five times more than adults’
‘One in six college students has been treated for anxiety last year’
The article is not meant to scare you or put you on back-foot, but to make you conscious of the gravity of the situation that most college students endure today. Relax, take a deep breath! College is not about depression, anxiety or frightening suicidal thoughts; it is about ‘you’, your new life, meeting with new people and considering new perspectives on life. So why don’t we give it a try to get ourselves together and fight off the possibility of opening ourselves to mental vulnerability.
5 Mental Health Problems College Students Face and their Remedies
Unhealthy food habits, lack of sleep and lack of exercise make a perfect recipe for depression. You may be suffering from depression too (or maybe not). Let’s take a test and find out:
Are you under depression?
If you relate to several of the following signs, especially the first two, you may be having depression:
- Are feeling helpless and hopeless?
- Are you losing interest in friends and activities that you used to enjoy?
- Do you feel tired all the time?
- Have you noticed any alteration in your appetite?
- Are you finding previously easy tasks difficult now?
- Are you having problem in controlling your negative thoughts?
- Are you becoming someone who is irritable, short-tempered and aggressive than usual?
If your answer is ‘yes’ to more than two questions, you may have to consult with primary services that the college offers you. You may already be taking anti-depressants, but it would be better if you try some non-drug remedies to lift your depression (even if you are responding to anti-depressants).
Natural Remedies to Cure Depression:
Here are few natural treatments that you may seriously want to try to keep depression at bay:
- Exercise: A few minutes of exercise can relieve you from depression as exercising activities alter the mood-regulating chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin.
- Keep a diary: Pen down your positive thoughts that are happening in your lives (maybe it is few). If it is too much to carry on, you can stick to weekly entries.
- Join support groups: You can find a group of people who are going through the same woes as you are. If you are not comfortable opening yourself, you can join a yoga group or book club that can be similarly effective.
- Eat fish oil: The effectiveness of fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids is inconclusive, but the deficiency of fatty acid can lead to mood swings and depression.
- Meditation: Meditation is as effective as taking anti-depressants. Take 15 minutes time of your schedule and do some yoga or reiki.
- Include saffron in your diet: A small study that examined 38 people over six weeks declared that saffron is effective in reducing the symptoms of depression, not to forget it is an expensive herb.
- Acupuncture: This is the least known remedy for depression, but it is effective among few alternative therapies of depression.
All of a sudden the world around you expects you to behave like an adult, doing homework, preparing to get a high-profile job and even socialize. All these put immense pressure on the students. Antsy feeling, upset stomach and tingling sensation start taking place. What does the anxiety feel like? Let’s see.
Do you have anxiety?
If you identify with several symptoms and signs of anxiety, you may be having an anxiety disorder. Answer the following questions to find out:
- Are you worried about being anxious on a daily basis?
- Do you have fears that others may find you irrational?
- Do you find yourself in the mid of heart-pounding panic attacks every now and then?
- Do you avoid socializing because it causes you more anxiety?
- Are you having concentration issues and blank mind?
- Are the anxious feelings interfering in your college, social and personal life?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, you may have to consult the primary health care provider or the student health center for assistance.
Natural Remedies to Cure Anxiety:
If symptoms of anxiety are hindering you from performing to your potential or interfering with your daily routine, then you should try these cheap remedies at home to feel better:
- Drink three cups of Chamomile tea: It is the source of two chemicals (apigenin and luteolin) that can relax your brain nerves.
- Breathe in lavender: The scent of lavender is used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety. So you can have a lavender-massage or put few drops in your bathtub.
- Add amino acid in diet: Amino acid can be found in beans, fish and meat or you can buy oral supplement as well. It can potentiality reduce the anxiety level of stress hormones.
- Light therapy: Stay under the sun for at least 15 minutes a day because it is the best way to increase your vitamins D levels in the body. A Japanese study has found that whoever walks 20 minutes though the forest can reduce anxiety level than those who take a stroll in an urban area.
- Exercise: Yes, again, because this is the best way to supply your brain some feel-good hormones endorphins. Research suggests that increased body heat — a natural result of exercising — can alter your neural circuit that is responsible for cognitive function and mood.
- Keep something to eat: Students get more anxious when they are hungry. In more scientific tone, you may get an anxiety attack when your blood sugar level is dropping. So always keep a handful of walnuts or a piece of dark chocolate, and biscuits with you.
- Have breakfast: Many people, who skip breakfast, show the symptoms of anxiety. So skipping breakfast is a strict no-no for you. Have eggs in breakfast because it contains the natural source of choline. Low levels of choline are proportionate to high level of anxiety.
- Face the fear: This is not only for saying! You must employ this in practical. Scared of clowns? Go to a circus.
3. LOW SELF ESTEEM/SELF WORTH
The beliefs you have about yourself are only the experiences you’ve had in your life, like you are a star when in high school, the moment you enter into college, you need to find your own voice and identity among 900 other students who also did well in high school. As a result, you may feel less confident and more confused about your identity and doings. Let’s take the test before you arrive at some conclusion,
Are you suffering from low self-esteem problem?
If you find the answers are affirmatives to most of the questions, then my dear you may have developed or developing low self-esteem in your nature.
- Do you think people find you boring to talk to?
- Do you feel that you mess up everything that you touch?
- Do you feel devastated when someone criticizes you?
- Do you find yourself not good enough for those who care about you?
- Do you think people will respect you if you are only good-looking or successful?
- Are you afraid to be yourself in front of the people?
- Do you crave for love from everyone whom you meet?
- Don’t you get confidence until someone says you are doing a good job?
- Do you constantly ask those people whom you care about whether they love you or not?
Natural Remedies to Cure Low Self-esteem:
It is important to see yourself from new perspectives. Knowing yourself can only be possible when you concentrate on what you are good at. To regain your lost confidence, you can try these home remedies:
- Increase your vitamin B intake: Nerves directly affect your confidence, so it is important that you nourish your nervous system with more vitamin B intake like whole grain cereals, brown rice, nuts, leafy vegetable which are easily available.
- Support your adrenal glands with oils: Starflower oil is very effective under pressure. It is even said that crusaders used to mix it with wine and drink it before going to battle.
- Take care of your skin: It is really frustrating to see a pimple in the morning when you have an important meeting that day. Spots and blemishes are sure to take down your confidence. Use honey (nature’s best anti-bacterial cosmetics) to get rid of these problems.
- Dr Bach’s Flower Therapy: Mimulus flower is a great choice if you want to fight off common fears like fear of public speaking or fear of the pet. Mix a few drops of Mimulus juice in water to shore up your courage.
- Stop your inner critic: Shout ‘stop’ word whenever your inner critic tries to take you down by saying ‘you are lazy and sloppy.’
- Hang some motivational quotes around you: ‘There is no substitute for hard work’. ‘If you never try you will never know’. Hang few inspirational quotes like this in your room to have positive energy around you.
- Take 2-minute break for appreciating: Take a deep breath and ask yourself the question, ‘What are three things I appreciate about myself the most?’ These don’t have to be big things. These little things will give a lot of positive energy in your body.
With the increased risk of violence, sex assault and drug overdoses and other risky habits in college, the number of victims of trauma in college has increased. A sore event is likely to lead to emotional and psychological trauma. It can be anything like sports injuries, the sudden death of someone, a humiliating and extreme disappointing experience or bullying.
Are you a victim of emotional, psychological or physical trauma?
Here are few questions that you need to answer if you suspect that you are under emotional and psychological trauma.
Emotional and psychological symptoms of trauma:
- Are you in a state of denial, shock or disbelief?
- Are you having regular mood swings or irritable nature?
- Do you hold yourself guilty and shameful?
- Are you experiencing sad and helpless feeling?
- Are you having difficulty to concentrate?
- Are you withdrawing from others?
- Are you feeling disconnected and numb?
- Are you feeling anxious and fearful?
- Are you unable to form close and satisfying relationships?
Physical symptoms of trauma:
- Nightmares and insomnia
- Increased heartbeat
- Aches and pains
- Edginess and agitation
- Muscle tension
You may experience these symptoms for few days or for months, but gradually they will fade away if you take good care of yourself. But even if you are feeling better, an anniversary of the event, an image, a sound or a similar situation can trigger the traumatic experience again. So you need to cure it completely.
Natural Remedies to Cure Trauma:
You don’t need a medical appointment to start feeling better; there are plenty of things you can do to reduce anxiety, stress and depression associated with trauma. Here we mention few of them to help yourself take control of your life back.
- Move your body: After reading this post, you have already understood, exercising is the core ‘mantra’ of getting rid of mental issues. As exercising engages body parts like legs and hands, it mainly takes off your focus from the disturbing thoughts.
- Connect with others: Social interaction with the one who care for you is the effective way to calm your nervous system down. It is important to talk to someone face-to-face for an uninterrupted period.
- Challenge your sense of helplessness: One of the best ways to regain your lost confidence is to volunteer your time such as give your time to your favorite charity, reach out to a friend in need or donate blood.
- Eat a balanced diet: Do not skip breakfast at the beginning of the day, because it keeps up your energy for the day. Limit fried food, processed food and refined starches and sugars.
- Get enough sleep: 7-9 hours sleep is must; also develop few relaxing habits like listening to soothing music or read something funny. Make your bedroom dark and quiet and soothing as much as possible.
5. SUBSTANCE ABUSE
If something isn’t prescribed to you or you take more medicine than prescribed to you, it is termed as abuse. When it comes to alcohol, 3-4 drinks for women and 5-6 drinks for men is considered as abusive use. Many students continue this behavior till their graduation; some develop severe addiction that is riskier. Substance use disorder may lead to few chronic mental health issues including depression, personality disorder, anxiety and schizophrenia.
Do you carry the symptom of substance abuse?
Symptoms of substance use can be noticed in both behavioral and physical changes that may include,
- Poor performance in college tests
- Frequently getting into trouble like fights or accidents
- Using substances in physically hazardous situations such as while driving or operating a machine
- Engaging in secretive or suspicious behavior
- Alteration in appetite or sleep patterns
- Unexplained mood swings and change in personality
- Periods of hyperactivity, agitation and giddiness
- Lack of motivation and confidence
- Fearing and feeling anxious and paranoid without any reason
- Bloodshot eye and abnormally big pupils
- Sudden alteration in weight (loss or gain in weight)
- Unusual smells in breath, body or clothing
- Slurred smell or impaired coordination
Natural Remedies to Cure to Substance Abuse:
Before thinking about taking appointment of a psychiatrist or admitting to treatment programs, you should consider these remedies.
- Animal contact: Evidence suggest spending quality time with pets can potentially lower stress level, reduce anxiety and depression and even reduction in severity of painful physical symptoms of illness.
- Horticulture therapy: When you offer a caregiver role to a substance abuser, it provides him a sense of purpose. It helps you in the same way as pet therapy. Moreover, it also enhances the concentration power of depressed people.
- Art-based therapy: This type of therapy encourages the addict to get outside their own self through the process of nurturing and creating. It enhances self-esteem and self-worth.
- Exercises: Again, you cannot deny the fact that daily exercising in small doses can help in recovering the addicts. It fulfills the absence of their substances of abuse. Moreover, it also improves the functions of cardiovascular, pulmonary and endocrine systems.
- Meditation: It is an art of practicing mindfulness. Gaining mindfulness helps the substance abusers to understand their thoughts closely, make the difference between good and bad and not to respond to negative thoughts or feelings.
- Nutrition restoration: It includes a personal nutrition plan, a micronutrient supplement including amino acids and prescribed physical activity as biomedical imbalances make people prone to addiction.
- Yoga: It is a way to bring your body, mind and spirit together in united alignment that promotes inner peace. This Inner peace assists the substance abusers to recover in preventing relapses.
- Acupuncture: It is not as popular as medication, but it is a helpful treatment when it comes to substance abuse. Gradually, it is gaining popularity for treating mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
Do not worry! A change in mental health is quite common while entering college. The new environment will leave some positive and negative impact on you. If you are feeling different than usual or thinking something isn’t right or suspecting you are countering any mental health issue, go to Counseling Services or reach out for clinical support/diagnosis. Talking to someone is very essential in this situation.
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