College is supposed to be the best time of your life, right? Not necessarily say the experts, and I agree. There is a lot of stress associated with being away from home, study work loads and peer pressure. Even the best multi-tasker can find themselves overwhelmed. This may be the reason that depression among college students is soaring. The question is what can we do about it.
Scientists at Hofstra University in New York studied data on the mental health of college students for 12 years, from 1997 to 2009, according to WebMd Health News.
Dr. John Guthman and his colleagues found that moderate to severe depression had increased from 34 percent to 41 percent among the 3,000 college students whose medical records were analyzed.
The data also indicated that the use of prescription psychiatric medications to treat depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactive disorder more than doubled from 11 percent to 24 percent.
We went from no one being on medication, to now too many students being on medication. I don’t advocate psychiatric medications for everyone. If they work for you, Amen! But all these children on Ritalin and other drugs, simply makes my skin crawl. When I was in grade school a lot of hyperactivity was dealt with behaviorally. You acted up, the nuns hit you with a ruler! Corporal punishment? Definitely. Did parents care? No. It was about learning respect. It’s a different world now.
The researchers presented their findings at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention.
Dr. Peter Kanaris, practicing psychologist and coordinator of public education for the New York State Psychological Association, says doctors and parents need to be careful since there are health risks associated with prescribing antidepressants and other medication to children and young adults.
“This is a real danger,” he told AOL Health. “Many of these medications are developed for adults and are just used by extension in the youth and young adults. Data shows there is a risk for increased aggression and suicidal reactions … You have to weigh these factors, especially when you consider taking medications that are only marginally beneficial at best.”
The ideal treatment for conditions like mild to moderate depression and anxiety is a combination of psychotherapy and prescription drugs, if needed, said Kanaris. But all too often, doctors jump the gun on using pills, and the patients don’t see good results, he added.
“As a society we’re largely influenced and driven by the media and what we’re being presented in ads on TV,” Kanaris said. “There’s been a shift in this country to think that medications should be the first line of treatment for depression and emotional illnesses. In the past 10 years or so, the use of psychotropic medicine has gone up, but the use of therapy has stayed the same or gone down.”
I so agree with the good doctor’s statement. If you are going to be on medication, you need the therapy to go with it. Trust me, I’ve been in therapy for 30 years. There is no magic pill. You have to work the program and confront your negative behavior. I’ve been very lucky. The first medication’s I was put on worked like a miracle. They didn’t even have to be modified. Most people aren’t as lucky. That’s why they get flushed down the toilet! If something makes you feel bad, your not going to take it. As a nurse, I see it everyday.
The good news? College’s are much more aware of mental health issues then ever before. The Virginia Tech murder’s played a large role in schools finally taking a student’s mental health profile seriously. It’s a matter of getting them help before it’s too late. We’re making progress, but it’s slow progress. As is the case with most mental health concerns. Hope still shines bright…. without it we have nothing.
For anyone who needs local help for depression here in Palm Beach, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is located in Lake Worth, Florida. Their local # (561) 588-3477. They can also help you with any questions or referrals you may need.
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