By Lexy Gross
"For Eleanor Hasken, a senior at the University of Kentucky, the time change and drop in temperature mean much more than bringing out winter clothes and drinking pumpkin spice lattes.
It means a loss of motivation, a drop in self-confidence and the inability to complete projects.
Hasken is one of many college students affected by a type of depression known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. This type of depression is most common at Northeastern colleges and affects five to 13% of the population.
"It runs in my family, I have (SAD) and I've seen friends who have it," Hasken says. "I would say a pretty high percentage of students probably have it, and many may just assume it's stress."
Judith Akin, a psychiatrist at Vanderbilt Medical Center, says SAD is most likely to appear in the late teens or early twenties and is most prevalent among women.
Symptoms include a decreased energy level, irritability, an inability to concentrate, a low sex drive and carbohydrate cravings.
Students also tend to avoid social situations more than usual and have trouble sleeping.
"College is supposed to be the best time of your life, but that's a myth," Akin says. "It's stressful being in a new environment — the coursework is harder. This is one myth I find college students won't publicly admit."
The National Institute of Mental Health found in a 2011 nationwide survey that 30% of college students reported feeling "so depressed it was difficult to function."
Bailey Coultrap, a recent graduate of Murray State University in Murray, Ky., says it took her a while to summon the courage to see a doctor about the depressive tendencies she was experiencing as a sophomore.
"I went to a doctor eventually, I was really stressed about it," Coultrap says. "I couldn't talk about it without crying."
Her doctor diagnosed her with SAD and prescribed anti-depressants for the condition. She says the piled-on stress of finals week and mounting assignments at the end of the semester only contributed to her anxiety.
Hasken points to the stereotype associated with depressive disorders as the culprit behind students avoiding the clear signs of SAD.
"It really does get misconstrued," Hasken says. "Depression is underreported for societal and cultural reasons. It's always implied that the 'weird people' on the fringe of society are depressed. If you feel it yourself, you don't really understand it."
Hasken encourages students with symptoms of any depressive order to see a doctor.
Several schools, including Vanderbilt University, provide accommodations for students with depressive disorders. These tools are often underutilized, she says.
Coultrap says the most important step students could take is going to the doctor with their symptoms. The problem, she says, is that students may not realize their symptoms are serious and can affect them long term."
Lexy Gross is a junior at Murray State University.
Full Article: Click Here
Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton - From Fame to Prostitution to Advocacy
Hall of Fame Basketball Star Chamique Holdsclaw on Mental Resilience
Diana Nightingale on her husband Earl Nightingale's Principles for Mental Health Success
JoAnn Buttaro on Date Rape & PTSD Survival
Story: Its Never Too Late
Gabe Howard on BiPolar Advocacy
Phil Fulmer on Teen Suicide
Prison, Bipolar and Mania with Andy Behrman
Columbia Univeristy's Dr. Rynn on OCD