Are you anxious, irritable, sad or disinterested? You are not alone! People from all walks of life and of all age groups experience these feelings at some time in their lives.

Young people face lots of changes. Undergoing bodily changes, becoming financially independent, learning life skills, acquiring a degree and balancing all these without losing old friends and making new ones. All these factors combined can be daunting. It turns into depression when the symptoms persist for two weeks or more.

Symptoms of depression include persistent feelings of sadness or loss of interest, changes in sleep patterns, low energy levels, loss of appetite or excessive hunger, lack of concentration, slowness in activity, thoughts of suicide, irritability, self-isolation, mood swings, panic attacks and guilt.

In 2011, the American College Health Association’s national college health assessment found that about 30 percent of college students experienced depression sometime in the past year. Observe yourself. If you experience five or more of these signs and they continue to disrupt your routine for a fortnight or so, recognize them and act.

Why does one get depressed? Many times, a combination of various factors like genes, stress, trauma, environment, abuse of prescription or recreational drugs, certain life events, separation from family and medical or financial problems can also trigger depression.

A wide range of facilities are provided to cater to the needs of people suffering from depression.

Treating it in its initial stage is better. Treatment involves a multi-pronged approach.

Support systems can be strengthened by educating family members, and medical treatment in the form of antidepressants and psychotherapy can be provided.

Do not feel shy or hesitate. Ask for help. Every college has support systems and health care centers located on campus.

If you observe any of your friends, acquaintances or family members exhibiting these signs for a prolonged time, talk to the person and encourage them to seek help. Spend more time with that person, draw them into conversation.

Beyond this, there are a few more things you can do. A morning or evening walk in a park, a visit to the gym, playing a game with friends or going out on short trips will not only keep you preoccupied, but also supply oxygen to the brain.

Physical activity releases certain chemicals, which help lift your spirits. To better equip yourself, the Counseling and Psychological Services website offers an anonymous online mental health screening to help.

The truth is, every day is new and everything evolves, including situations, people and relationships. Giving oneself an opportunity to evolve, gather all the courage hidden in the deep realms of the mind, silence all the doubts in their head, be curious about what happens in life and accept everything with open arms may take one a few steps ahead.

Though it is not easy, you should always remember: This is curable, so it’s doable.

opinion-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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