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Don’t be SAD—spring is coming, and here are tips to help get there

February 28th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

By Cathy Morgan

LOGAN–It may be “spring” semester, but warm weather is still far from our grasp. Many students are more prone to problems dealing with stress and depression during winter.

Chris Chapman, a counselor at Utah State, says there are many factors that get involved when it comes to students and depression. Genetics, the environment, the stress of midterms and assignments, and having to work all make it hard for people who are trying to cope or just don’t know how.

“It is proven that most people experience these types of depression when they reach the ages of 17-18,” Chapman said.

“The three most important things to keep in balance are eating, sleeping and physical activity,” he said.

One major challenge when dealing with depression is isolation. Staying inside and sleeping all day will only make matters worse for you, advisors say.

It is important to build a support system to help get through those cold, blue winter days, Chapman says. Some people connect better with others, and it can help to have someone in your life you can talk to about problems. Chapman recommends USU’s counseling center as a place to start. The center offers stress therapy sessions and workshops that can help manage what’s going on.

Students are sometimes very good at finding for themselves out what works when it comes to dealing with depression problems.

“I walk myself through the Albert Ellis rational emotive behavior therapy technique when things get hard,” said Teresa Prince, a student at Southern Utah University. This is basically taking the thing that may be upsetting you and try to take the negatives, flip them around, and look at the positives that can come from it.

“A lot of times, people struggle with feeling they aren’t good enough in the eyes of others,” said Kirt Manwaring, a political science major at Brigham Young University.

Bailee Goodell, an early childhood special education major at USU, says sometimes little things can help bring back balance. “Sometimes all it takes is a small change like adding vitamin B to your diet,” she said.

Vitamin B is essential for mental and emotional well-being. It cannot be stored in our bodies so you must rely on your diet to help provide it. For example, vitamin B1 can help convert blood sugar into energy—without it, the brain rapidly gets exhausted. Things like alcohol, refined sugars, caffeine and nicotine can deprive the body of B1.

Chapman made it clear that students tend to feel awkward and ashamed about their feelings of depression, so they think holding it in is the best way to deal with their problems.

There are many levels of depression, which can vary widely among individuals.

Clinical depression can be seen in people who can’t sleep, or who sleep too much. Everyone goes through periods of sadness, Chapman said, but when they last for a long time and get more intense, this is a clear sign that it’s time to find a little help.

When students are having a hard time, they need to understand that everyone is dealing with the same problems they are, he said. There are people that are there to listen to you within your circle of friends or on campus to help you get through Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and make it to spring.

The USU Counseling and Psychological Services Center is in TSC 306. Call 797-1012 or stop by for an appointment or information


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