Be aware of signs of stress and anxiety:

By Tashana Smith:

Going to college is a big step, especially if you’re enrolling 10 or more years after you have graduated high school. There are some ups and downs. There are those who go to college already diagnosed with a mental illness, which in my belief it makes it more stressful for them. Then you have those students who attend college and think nothing is wrong with them. They ignore all the signs and symptoms that are present.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), one in four students have a diagnosable illness. Of these students, 40 percent of them do not choose to seek help. 80 percent feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities and 50 percent have become so anxious that they begin to struggle in school.

There are different forms of mental illness that differ from person to person. There is depression, which can be a result from a chemical imbalance in your brain. Some of the symptoms of depression are changes in sleep habits, such as not getting enough sleep or sleeping too much, and appetite changes, such as eating more than usual or not eating properly. Changes in thought patterns can be a symptom also, meaning the individual is always seeing the glass as half empty. Having trouble paying attention or concentrating can also be a symptom.

Emotional symptoms include feelings of sadness, feeling overwhelmed, feelings of hopelessness and feelings of powerlessness. If you are concerned about a friend or loved one, there are signs to look for, such as not enjoying the activities they once loved, no longer attending classes or social outings. They may be experiencing extreme anger or sadness over an event that has happened in their life. They may often talk about death or suicide.

Another common mental illness is anxiety disorder. Often people get anxiety on a daily basis, but treatment is necessary when it begins to interfere with your daily life, halting your ability to function and causing an immense amount of stress and fear. Common symptoms of anxiety are stress and apprehension, irritability, trouble concentrating, shortness of breath, headaches and muscle pain and tension.

These disorders can be a life altering experience, I know because I go through it on a daily basis. But there is help. If not treated, mental illness can lead to suicide, so watch closely for changes in people’s speech, mood or behavior.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues and not sure where to turn, there is the Counseling Center at AC where you can get the help you need. To make an appointment, call (806) 371-5900 or go to the Ask AC counter or call the Texas Panhandle Centers at 806-358-1681. And if you feel like you can’t wait to talk to someone call the crisis line at 806-359-6699 (Amarillo Area) or 1-800-692-4039 (Toll Free). Out of all the stress in life, taking your life is not the answer.

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