Students must prioritize mental health concerns

Opinions Columnist | Mass Communication Senior

Taking care of one’s mental health is important and should not be neglected, even if that means turning to medication or therapy.

Depression can be a difficult disorder to pinpoint. After all, every person feels sad or depressed for no reason at some point. This is especially true for college students, who must endure the combined stresses of maintaining grades, a social life, finances and trying to decide what path in life to take career-wise. All of these stressors can culminate into some serious mental issues.

For me, admitting that I had some form of depression was difficult. I kept telling myself that I could pull out of it without help, that all it took was mental strength and clear goals to be happy again. Before I knew it, years of unaddressed depression snowballed and collided with the stresses of college life, culminating in suicidal thoughts and sleeping all day. I turned to my friends for help, but many of them suffered from their own mental issues. For a long time I groped blindly along and refused to face the reality that I needed professional help.

Exercise and a nutritious diet are critical to one’s mental health. It is common knowledge that these two aspects of life need to be kept in order to maintain good mental and physical health. Sometimes more help is needed, however. I have witnessed many people my age suffering with consistent unhappiness and yet not taking the extra step to seek outside help. For many people, this step is crucial.

According to a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine in 2012, a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants may provide a slight advantage over treatment by itself. Both of these options are readily available for Bobcats who may be suffering from any number of depressive mental conditions. When these resources are utilized simultaneously, symptoms can be relieved and healthy coping tactics come together to stabilize mental health.

Antidepressants used alone remove the hands-on mentality needed for a person to be an active participant in his or her own health, a factor that is crucial for recovery. On the other hand, therapy by itself does not relieve the immediate biological pressures of depression. Using either treatment alone may not be effective and could discourage someone who is suffering from sticking to the treatment long enough to learn and apply necessary coping techniques. When these methods come together, they have more short-term and long-term benefits for those suffering from depression or similar conditions.

A miserable state of existence does not have to be the norm for those who struggle with the daily burden of a depressive disorder. Happiness is achievable, but it requires paying special attention to one’s own mental state. No one should ever push mental issues to the side for the sake of grades or friendships. Students must focus on mental health first and take the steps necessary if they want to feel good again.