I’m a freshman and lately I’ve noticed I am really, really, really stressed. The stress seems to come in waves, sometimes like a tsunami. When it hits, I don’t feel like partying, I don’t feel like kissing my boyfriend and I don’t feel like hearing news from back home at the farm. I just want to sleep. Fortunately, after a few days, I’m de-stressed. But still, sometimes I wish I had gone to school closer to home. I’m not involved here and my only good friend is my roommate: a stress in and of itself.
The feelings you are experiencing are completely normal, especially for an incoming freshman. Many students will experience early symptoms of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and alcohol abuse during their first semester of college. A condition such as depression, for example, has a wide range of symptoms. Even if you don’t feel sad, you still may be experiencing some depression. Common symptoms of depression, in addition to sadness, include sleep disturbances, an anxious or “empty” mood and a loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities – ranging from schoolwork to sex to eating disturbances. It may result in decreased energy, difficulty concentrating and other physical symptoms. Thoughts of death or suicide are also common.
Many students suffering from these symptoms opt to visit a counselor. Luckily, UM has an excellent Counseling Center with counselors who will help you feel better by sorting out feelings or problems you are experiencing. If you don’t feel comfortable talking one-on-one, there are group therapy sessions and workshops available.
Additionally, school involvement is another approach to controlling depression. Participating in one of UM’s 200 registered student organizations, programming boards or intramural/club sports is a great way to ease feelings of loneliness and depression. Also, talk to your professors about involvement in your major, [e.g., student groups, possible research projects, various activities, etc.]. Remember, everyone who has gone to college has probably experienced many of the feelings you are dealing with at some point.
Overall, think positively, smile and have fun. Try turning everything that is negative in your life into a positive.
For information about seeing a counselor or getting involved in a workshop, call 305-284-5511.
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Ashley Tift is a senior majoring in psychology. She is also a member of C.O.P.E [Counseling Outreach Peer Education], the Counseling Center’s peer education and outreach organization.