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Ask The Experts

I Feel Like I Have No Control


My drive to do anything is at an all time low, especially school. Since the semester began, I’ve felt overwhelmed, unappreciated, alone and misunderstood. I work, part time at a fast food restaurant, and go to school full time. I’ve tried cutting back on my hours working but nothing’s changed. When I’m at school I just feel like a ghost sitting there. I can’t concentrate, yet I always have a headache. I’ve been thinking of taking a break from school after I receive my associates next semester. I’m just so confused because my life feels like it’s in an uproar and I have no control over it. What should I do?

Victor Schwartz, M.D., Medical Director, The Jed Foundation answers:

It certainly sounds as if you are having a difficult time. It was a good idea to try easing back on the demands you have by decreasing your work-many students who also carry large work responsibilities can become overwhelmed and often have trouble finding time for sleep, exercise and some leisure (and if you are spending a great deal of time working at a fast food restaurant I would be concerned what your diet might be like).

What concerns me about your note is that the kinds of problems you are describing: lack of motivation, feeling alone and overwhelmed, difficulty concentrating, physical complaints could suggest that you are depressed. I would urge you to see a counselor at school or a therapist or doctor in your community to discuss what you are experiencing. The fact that you are having headaches often might be a reflection of stress but this would suggest that you might start out with a visit to a doctor to make sure that there is not a physical problem (beyond stress and/or depression) that might be causing or contributing to your problems.

You might hold off on making a decision about what to do after school until you’ve gotten a better idea what is causing your trouble and how you might be able to address it.

Remember, if this is depression, it is treatable! But you need to follow through on getting help.