Winter quarter has always felt like the longest quarter I’ve ever taken. Even in high school, it just felt like an endless cycle of going to school and going to sleep, hardly ever seeing the sun. A dilemma that often goes ignored is Seasonal Affective Disorder, particularly among college students. It is a type of depression that occurs at certain times of the year, most common during long winters. Patients may exhibit symptoms of hopelessness, less energy, inability to concentrate, loss of interest in work or other activities, unhappiness, social withdrawal and fluctuation with appetite and sleep—all of which are detrimental in the daily habits of a college student. Particularly for students, the root of depression seems to be stress.
It’s perfectly natural to experience stress every once in a while. It is, after all, the body’s natural response to challenging situations. It allows us to focus and get the energy we need to meet our goals. On top of the gloomy days of Washington state causing depression, it’s often that student experience higher levels of stress from exams and homework, work outside of school and family dilemmas. Chronic, excessive stress affects many body functions, especially the immune system. Excessive stress can cause eating and sleeping problems, body aches, increased use of alcohol and other drugs and poor concentration—all of which are detrimental to the daily habits of a college student. As stress and anxiety gets pounded onto the average student, it becomes an endless cycle of depression and grief when they detach themselves from the wonders of learning.
Education should be considered as vital to an individual’s life as food and water is. It is an absolute necessity in life that stands beside freedom and culture. Without education, there could be no progress in terms of the role of an individual in society but also in terms of broadening and enlightening the mind. My grandfather once told me that college is a place to learn how to learn. It is a place of exploration and preparation for the outside world. Nowadays, higher education seems to be a mandatory path that forces students to follow one direction with their future . For the most part, higher education is definitely an investment and should be treated as such: pay for school in order to make more money. However, there’s a stress that’s placed upon students that we must find a high-paying career that will make us set for life and a career that we can enjoy day in and day out. With all these burdens on us—worries about our future, about our next exams, about disappointing our parents, about our uncertainties about our career path, about our identities or our place in the world—hopelessness seems to be a logical direction that many of us unfortunately go to. I’m here to tell you that there are people to help you and ways to make education fun again.
Reducing stress all begins with you. Admitting that you’re overwhelmed with work and seek aid is completely natural and shouldn’t be considered “giving up” or “failing.” It just means you have a lot on your plate. The next step after acceptance is to set realistic goals and reward yourself. Make yourself feel good by finding a mode for release: exercising, writing in a journal, talking to friends. When you’re feeling lonely, don’t stay lonely. The Student Success and Counseling Center at Bellevue College provides counseling services to registered students. They are available by appointment—just call (425) 564-2212 or stop by the front desk on the second floor of the Student Services B building to make an appointment.
Though rates of suicide amongst college students are definitely declining, it is still an important issue to address. 44% of American college students reported feeling symptoms of depression and over two-thirds of those students don’t talk about or seek help for their mental health problems. Suicide caused by depression is the second leading cause of death amongst individuals between the ages 18 through 24. Just remember, you’re not alone. You never should have to feel like you’re alone. As one student explained. “Depression is like fighting with your own mind. Just like the cold or the flu, it’s a disease that you have to fight your own body with and there are ways to cure it and ‘get better.’”