Ever felt so down you couldn’t concentrate in school or enjoy social activities with your friends?
If so, you are not alone. In a recent survey, half of all college students said they had been so stressed that they couldn’t get their work done or enjoy social activities during the last semester. But all of us have the power to take control of our emotional health in order to improve our moods and get the most out of life.
Taking control of your emotional health involves realizing that choices you make about sleep, diet and exercise can have a direct impact on your emotions and state of mind. It also means being proactive when you are concerned about your thoughts or feelings. When unaddressed, mental health problems like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders and addiction can make it hard to do well or feel good. The good news is that these problems are treatable and getting help is the first step towards feeling better and moving forward.
Here are some common signs that a friend needs help dealing with emotional issues or a mental health problem:
*Depression or apathy that interferes with obligations or participating in social activities
*Lack of coping skills around day-to-day problems or extreme reactions to certain situations
*Extreme highs, referred to as mania, that may include rushed thoughts, bursts of energy, sleeplessness and compulsive behavior (like excessive spending or promiscuous sexual behavior)
*Severe anxiety or stress
*Constant feelings of sadness or hopelessness
Increased use of alcohol or drugs
The key to taking control of your emotional health is to listen to your body and understand it’s needs. Make sure to get plenty of sleep. Stay active. Research has shown that people dealing with mild to moderate depression have experienced up to a 50 percent reduction in symptoms after exercising on a regular basis. Be sure to eat a health, balanced diet. Avoid stressful situations whenever possible and make sure you have the right tools to deal with the situations you can’t avoid. Know your limits when it comes to topics like drugs and alcohol.
Above all else, it’s important to speak up and get things checked out if you are concerned about your thoughts, feelings or behavior.
Please be sure to select your school above so we can provide you with information about resources and help on or near your campus.
Are you worried that a friend or loved one needs help managing their emotional health? You may see warning signs that they can’t or don’t want to acknowledge. Maybe you’ve noticed that their behavior or appearance has changed, or that they’re acting uncharacteristically irritable or tense. Maybe they often complain about feeling overwhelmed by everything they have to do. Don’t assume that the problem will go away on its own, or that your friend can just “snap out of it.”
How you respond to a friend or classmate that is showing signs of emotional distress or a potential problem is often dependent on your relationship with that person. If you have a long history and friendship with the person, you may be a key resource for support and feel comfortable having a discussion with your friend about how they are feeling. If the person struggling is a more recent acquaintance, like a roommate or classmate, your role may involve letting someone else know about the problem. Regardless, it is important to remember that you aren’t a therapist and it isn’t your job to provide treatment. Your role is to be supportive and encourage them to reach out to family, the counseling center or another medical professional as a first step — even if you don’t fully understand the problem or its severity.