Are you in a lecture right now? Look around you.
One in every six people you can see have experienced or will experience a form of depression or anxiety in their lifetime – some may even experience it more than once. Mental illness is common in young adults, and is often ignored or passed off as a bad day, a bad mood, or a side effect of a stressful few weeks. But when you’ve been feeling down for a while, how long is too long before you ask for help?
According to Beyond Blue, if you are feeling sad, down or miserable for more than a few weeks then it’s time to speak to a friend, family member or GP. If you’re not too sure about how to identify it, here are some common symptoms in behaviour:
- Not going out anymore
- Not getting your uni work done
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Relying on alcohol or sedatives
- Being unable to enjoy activities you would normally enjoy
- Difficulty concentrating
In a busy uni week we might experience one or two of these behavioural symptoms, stress and difficulty concentrating are common among most uni students who want to do well in their degree. It’s important when going about your day that you recognise when you carry out these behaviours – don’t freak out if you find yourself doing them, but rather just notice it, make a note of it and try to observe how long these behaviours last. Common symptoms of depression are not just limited to behaviours. What we know of people with depression is that they will frequently be feeling:
- Lacking in confidence
It’s very important to understand that depression is not always ‘sadness’
People with depression often describe it as a feeling of ‘nothingness’ or ‘numbness’. If you’re worried that a friend or family member is depressed or anxious then approach them with an open mind and open ears: ask them if they want to talk about how they feel, or if they need to be referred to someone who can help in a professional capacity. Never assume that a depressed or anxious person is able to deal with it on their own.
Mental illness, contrary to popular belief, is not just limited to the mind – it can impact your whole body. The physical symptoms of depression or anxiety can have you feeling:
- Tired all the time
- Sick and run down
- Headaches and muscle pains
- Sleep problems
- Loss or change of appetite
- Significant weight loss or gain
This may all seem very daunting, but it’s an important set of indicators to remember if you’re concerned for yourself or the well-being of a friend or family member. When uni gets stressful or you’re just missing home you should know that there are loads of places you can get help or just find someone to talk to.
Your Village RA’s
These guys are your go-to people when you need a good chat or just a coffee and some company. They are students just like you, so they definitely know a thing or two about the pressures of uni life! If you’re not too comfortable talking to an RA they can refer you to any on campus or local services in the area.
Headspace is an awesome Australian-owned youth-based counselling service that specialise in issues facing young people from the ages of 12-25. They have clinics all over Australia which you can find here, or simply log on to their website and have a live chat with one of their online counselors.
Not to be confused with the Australian-Headspace organisation. Go to your app store and search ‘Headspace’. This app is a brilliant tool for focussing your thoughts and calming yourself through meditation and relaxation. The first 10 sessions of the Headspace app are free and you’re not required to give them your bank details. I would strongly recommend giving it a go if you’re having trouble sleeping or just relaxing.
BeyondBlue is one of Australia’s best support systems when it comes to seeking help and finding information on mental illness. You can call their helpline at any time on 1300 22 4636. They also have an email or online chat option for those not comfortable speaking on the phone. Their recent campaign “Brains are Weird” is a great visual representation for the impacts of depression and anxiety in young people. Check it out here.
Lifeline is another excellent service for when you’re feeling anxious and need a friend to talk with. You can call at any time on 13 11 14 for immediate support and information if you’re calling out of concern for a roommate or friend. Visit their website here.
As always, our goal is to make sure your experience at university is the best it can be!
If you are ever feeling alone, anxious or you’re showing any of the above signs of depression, please contact us at any time. Our staff are always contactable by phone and there is always an RA at the Village if you need them. Look after yourself and look after your roommates, and good luck with all your studies!