From the Editor: Confront depression: find the light

The end of the semester looms overhead, unleashing a heavy downpour of papers, exams and final projects onto students. For many, these last few weeks of class are a time where we feel as though we are drowning in the endless sea of responsibilities. There is not enough time to finish that paper and still study for that test. There is no way to get in touch with group members for that presentation. There is no way we can accept a C in that class, and there is no way our GPAs can withstand that blow.

And for many college students, this monsoon of expectations crashing on us might make it seem like there is no hope.

A large percentage of college students are facing depression, all triggered by the stress of the educational environment. Many fall even deeper into depression as they prioritize their schoolwork over their own health.

We’ve all seen the memes and funny posts on social media, all joking about how college students get no sleep, barely eat or are deeply depressed. In a way, we all relate to the stress that these posts point out.

But in reality, about one third of all college students actually experience depression during the school year, according to a 2013 study by the American Psychological Association. That depression made it difficult for those students to function.

This is, in part, attributed to the high levels of stress and variety of forms of pressure college students are subjected to. For many, these factors can be overwhelming, dispiriting and mentally crippling.

As the end of the semester draws closer and the pressures we face continue to grow, this is the time for us to identify what we or our peers might be feeling, as the likelihood for lapses in our mental health will only increase at this time of the year.

Though depression is complicated and should not necessarily be self-diagnosed, there are a few clear symptoms indicating depression. The National Institute of Mental Health states that irritability, persistent sadness, fatigue, issues focusing and sleeping problems could all be symptoms. Some indicators may be harder to immediately see, such as a lack of motivation and lethargy, or no desire to do anything at all.

Those memes or silly posts online can definitely be funny. But, if one third of all of us are depressed, then maybe it’s time to take them seriously.

We are here for a single purpose — to work our hardest to get an education and earn our degrees. However, we should all prioritize our physical and mental health, as well as that of our friends. Before triggering further depression or dark feelings for the sake of a paper or project, we must remember to try to take care of ourselves.

There is no shame in acknowledging the state of one’s mental health and taking advantage of the counseling offered at Rider. There is also no shame in reaching out to an outside therapist, if necessary.

We should remember to stay social and try to talk to friends, not isolate ourselves. Remember to eat and try to get enough sleep, too.

For all the time we set aside to chip away at our assignments, we should also set aside an equal amount of time to take care of ourselves. We should do things that make us happy. For some of us, that might mean meditation, working out or doing yoga. For others, it’s reading a good book or playing a video game. It does not matter. Just leave some time to do it.

Fighting depression is a battle, and overcoming it is not as simple as trying to smile. However, the battle begins within all of us and we can all be taking steps to better take care of ourselves physically and especially mentally.

School is a priority, of course. But getting good grades means nothing if we are slowly drowning in our stress and depression. As the semester ends and finals start to roll onto our shores, we have to remember that our real responsibilities and priorities are to ourselves and our health. Before delving into schoolwork, we all have to try our hardest to stand up, dry off and continue moving, because none of us deserve to be suffocated by our stress.

If anyone on campus is feeling depressed, Rider offers counseling services. On the Lawrenceville campus, the counseling center is located in Zoerner House and they can be reached at (609)-896-5157. On the Princeton campus, it is room six in Williamson Hall and the service can be called at (609)-921-7100 extension 8275. There are also a plethora of resources available on Rider’s website, from links to support sites to hotlines one can call. 

Students can also call 1(800)-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained counselor who can help you.

 

The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.

 

Printed in the 11/30/16 issue.

 

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