Mental Health: Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Everybody has the blues, feels anxious, loses interest in enjoyable activities, or gets stressed sometimes, but when it continues for a long time or interferes with daily activities, it may be more serious.

Stress is the body's response to any demand or pressure. These demands are called stressors. When stressors in your life are constant, it can take a tole on your mental and physical health.

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps you deal with a tense situation, study harder for an exam, or keep focused on an important speech. However, if you cannot shake unwarranted worries, or if the feelings are jarring to the point of avoiding everyday activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Depression is very different from the occasional blues. About 18.8 million Americans experience depressive disorders that affect how they sleep, eat, feel about themselves, and live their lives. Depression can run in families, and it usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30. Depression has physical and emotional symptoms and cannot be wished away; people with depression can't just "pull themselves together." There are different types of depressive disorders, each with its own symptoms and treatment options. The good news is that depression can be treated, and people can recover.

Action Steps

  • Stay active. Regular physical activity improves one’s mood, helps relieve depression, and increases feelings of well-being. Try going for a walk, dancing, jogging, or riding a bike. Ask a friend to exercise with you if you need to be motivated.
  • Develop a circle of friends for support.
  • Identify what may be causing your stress. Determine what steps you can take to reduce stressors, such as changing schedules, using self-relaxation techniques, and setting realistic goals for yourself.
  • Talk to someone you can trust, such as a parent, doctor, counselor, religious leader, resident assistant, or teacher. Some people find that sharing their feelings with someone they trust and who recognizes what they’re going through helps them feel better.
  • Visit the health center, and discuss concerns with a health professional. If the health professional advises treatment, follow instructions. Watch out for side effects, and attend follow-up appointments to assess improvement. If you don't feel any better after 4-6 weeks, tell your health professional.
  • If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Resources

UCSC Counseling & Psychological Services
http://caps.ucsc.edu 
831.459.2628

Ad Council – Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign
‘What a Difference a Friend Makes’
www.adcouncil.org

Half of Us – provides a resource center with information on various mental health issues facing young people.
www.halfofus.com

American Psychiatric Association - Healthy Minds
The APA has created resources that explore mental health issues that impact college students.
www.healthyminds.org/collegementalhealth_new.cfm

Help Guide
A trusted non-profit mental-health resource.
http://www.helpguide.org/topics/anxiety.htm 

mpower – Musicians for Mental Health is a youth awareness campaign that is harnessing the power of music to change youth attitudes about mental health and stigma.
www.mpoweryouth.org

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – AFSP
Dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research and education and reaching out to people with mood disorders and those affected by suicide.
www.afsp.org

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
A 24 –hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to ANYONE in suicidal crisis.
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Mental Health
http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/

Stress Management
Mayo Clinic
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-management/MY00435 

Stress Management
American Heart Association
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/StressManagement/Stress-
Management_UCM_001082_SubHomePage.jsp
 
 
Suicide Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide/index.html

Tips for Coping with Stress
http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/CopingWithStress.htm

Depression (NLM/NIH)
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/depression.html

Mental Illness: What a Difference a Friend Makes (SAMHSA)
http://www.whatadifference.samhsa.gov/index.html