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Anxiety and stress are a normal part of life and are even adaptive in many conditions. Normal anxiety keeps us alert by making us attend to our surroundings in order to proceed with caution when appropriate and therefore is not usually a source for concern. At times, however, anxiety and stress can get out of hand, inexplicably reaching overwhelming levels. This can result in a dramatic reduction of productivity and can significantly intrude on one's quality of life. At times, there is no obvious or reasonable cause for the unusually high anxiety levels.
Some common symptoms of anxiety include the following:
Common sources of anxiety and stress for college students include concerns about managing their workload, interpersonal issues such as meeting new people and roommate difficulties, and issues related to loneliness/homesickness. Some useful coping strategies for coping with college stress are managing your time effectively, setting priorities, learning to say "no" when necessary, and developing an academic routine. For more information on stress management, visit the Health Promotion Hot Topics! page on Stress.
If you have concerns about the anxiety or stress you are experiencing, please do not hesitate to call Counseling Services at 585-245-5716 and schedule an appointment to speak with one of our counselors. For further online resources about anxiety, go to our Links Page or check out our Self Help Library for books about anxiety and stress. Or, if you would like to participate in a free, anonymous online screening program for anxiety, go here.
The blues. Bummed out. Down in the dumps. We all have times when we feel depressed. To experience feelings of sadness and times when you just can’t get going is a normal reaction to disappointment, loss, or situational stress. But how do you differentiate this from the more serious illness called "depression?" Some characteristics of more "normal" depressed feelings are:
*In the case of a significant loss, such as the breakup of a relationship or death of a loved one, the normal grieving process takes place over a longer span of time. For more information, see the section on grief and loss below.
In contrast to those situational and transient periods of feeling down, clinical depression is a disorder which can affect your ability to function in every aspect of your life. When most of us think about depression, the image which comes to mind is one of overwhelming sadness. Although many people do experience this when they are depressed, others might feel different emotions, such as numbness or anger. Also, clinical depression disrupts your mental, physical, and social functioning. Some of the most frequent signs of depression include:
Because suicidal feelings and thoughts can go hand-in-hand with depression, it’s important to know some of the warning signs of suicide:
If you or someone you know is experiencing the above signs, it is essential to get help right away. For detailed information about accessing help on the Geneseo campus, go to our Emergency Information page. You can also get help by calling Life Line, a 24-hour crisis hotline, at 800-310-1160, or by calling 911. You may also find it useful to review this suicide risk questionnaire, ACT now to stop a suicide.
If you have concerns about depressive symptoms you are experiencing, particularly suicidal ideation, please do not hesitate to call Counseling Services at 585-245-5716 and schedule an appointment to speak with one of our counselors. For further online resources about depression (including Bipolar or Manic Depression) and suicide, go to our Links Page or check out our Self Help Library for books about depression. Or, if you would like to participate in a free, anonymous online screening program for depression or other mood disorders, go here.
Losing a family member or friend to death is one of the most difficult challenges we face in our lives. As we deal with grief, we are often flooded with intense feelings, and we may find that we are not able to function in ways which are "normal" for us; therefore, people who are experiencing grief sometimes think that there is something wrong with them or that they are "going crazy." Actually, there is a very wide range of normal responses to grief, and the way in which each person experiences that grief is likely to be very individualized. Among the responses which many people have to grief are some of the following:
The grieving process generally follows a kind of pattern or flow. Initially, you may experience numbness and a state of disbelief. This is often followed by yearning for the person who has died, which can be experienced as "waves" of sadness that come and go. As the first intense feelings pass, you may experience a deeper or more subtle sense of disorganization, despair, and apathy about everyday events. Finally, you may experience reorganization in which the ability to move forward into life without the loved one becomes more possible.
While the old maxim that time is the best healer is certainly true with grief, there are also things which you can do to facilitate the grieving process.
If you have a friend who is experiencing grief, take a look at our handout on What to Do If Someone You Know...Is Grieving. You can also find an up-to-date analysis on some myths about grief in this recent TIME magazine article.
If you have concerns about the grief or loss you are experiencing, please do not hesitate to call Counseling Services at 585-245-5716 and schedule an appointment to speak with one of our counselors. For further online resources about grief and loss, go to our Links Page or check out our Self Help Library for books about grief and loss.
College health experts have estimated that as many as 70 percent of all women on campus have body-image issues significant enough to disrupt their day-to-day lives--ranging from obsessing about weight to actual bingeing and purging. As our population as a whole has become more concerned with weight control, younger and younger children, both male and female, have adopted restrictive eating patterns. What may begin as abnormal behaviors towards food, eating, weight control, and body image--usually during adolescence--may develop into anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or other forms of disordered eating. Self-starvation, binge behaviors, and other extreme behaviors can result in mood changes, stress, and health problems. As mentioned above, these behaviors often interfere with daily functioning in areas such as academics and relationships.
The following are some common signs which could indicate the presence of an eating disorder:
Even if you don't have symptoms of an eating disorder, you may want to consider whether or not you have a healthy relationship with food. If you answered"yes" to two or more questions in the list below, you might want to speak with a counselor about these issues.
It may also be helpful to consult this handout, What's Going On With Me? For information on establishing healthy eating and exercise habits, visit Health Promotion Hot Topics! page on Nutrition & Fitness.
If you have concerns about eating disorders and/or body image, please do not hesitate to call Counseling Services at 585-245-5716 and schedule an appointment to speak with one of our counselors. For further online resources about eating disorders and body image, go to our Links Page or check out our Self Help Library for books about eating disorders and body image. Or, if you would like to participate in a free, anonymous online screening program for eating disorders, go here.
Young people begin to experiment and test limits as they transition from childhood to adulthood. They do so because they are moving from a familiar world to the larger and unknown environment, within which they begin to define their own identity and personal values. It is also during this time that some young people may engage in behaviors that place them and others at risk due to a lack of knowledge, including using alcohol or drugs.
Alcohol and other drugs affect your brain. Drinking alcohol or using other drugs lead to a loss of coordination, poor judgment, slowed reflexes, distorted vision, memory lapses, blackouts, and even death.Alcohol and other drugs affect your body.Alcohol and other drugs can damage every organ in your body. It is absorbed directly into your bloodstream and can increase your risk for a variety of life-threatening diseases, including cancer, liver damage, and others.Alcohol and other drugs affect your self-control.Alcohol and other drugs lower your inhibitions and impair your judgment. They can lead to risky behaviors, including having unprotected sex and driving while under a substance influence. This may expose you to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases or may cause unwanted pregnancy; or you may be at an increased risk of being seriously injured, involved in car crashes, or affected by violence.
The following are some warning signs which may indicate a problem with alcohol and/or other drugs:
For more information, visit the Health Promotion Hot Topics! page on Alcohol & Drugs. Also, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) provides an excellent overview of Commonly Abused Drugs. If you are interested in Red Watch Band, a movement is designed to end alcohol overdose deaths by teaching students how to handle alcohol emergencies and summon professional help, visit our Red Watch Band page; or, learn more about how you can help by visiting the Stand Up! page for Alcohol & Other Drugs.
If you have concerns about your own use of alcohol and other drugs, please do not hesitate to call Counseling Services at 585-245-5716 and schedule an appointment to speak with one of our counselors. Health & Counseling also has an Alcohol & Other Drugs Program Coordinator, Sarah Covell. Sarah is available for consultations around alcohol and other drug usage issues; she can work with you to help you reach your goals around your substance use.
For further online resources about alcohol and other drugs, go to our Links Page or check out our Self Help Library for books about alcohol and other drugs. Or, if you would like to participate in a free, anonymous online screening program for alcohol, go here; you can also take a quiz from the National Institutes of Health called Rethinking Drinking, which compares your drinking patterns to those of other US Adults. Finally, for current information about local AA, Al-Anon, and NA groups, contact the Livingston County Council for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse at 585-346-3050.
Child sexual abuse, which includes any unwanted sexual contact that occurred during childhood (such as fondling, oral sex, attempted rape, and rape), can be devastating to the victim. Most children do not or cannot tell others what happened--often related to feelings of fear and shame--and therefore, they do not receive help; their secret is often kept into adulthood. Unfortunately, many of the effects of childhood sexual abuse can also continue into adulthood. Some of these effects may include the following:
In addition to the above types of abuse and assault, exposure to any kind of traumatic event in which grave physical harm occurred (or was threatened) can lead to the development of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Other examples of traumatic events include violent mugging, gay (or lesbian) bashing, physical abuse, accidents (particularly auto accidents), natural/human caused disasters, and military combat. Both the victims of these events and their families are at risk for developing the disorder. PTSD can be an extremely debilitating condition which may include the following:
For more information about PTSD, visit Gift From Within, a site for anyone who has experienced trauma; see also our The Effects of Traumatic Events handout for additional details about trauma reactions.
If you have concerns about sexual abuse, assault, or rape, please do not hesitate to call Counseling Services at 585-245-5716 and schedule an appointment to speak with one of our counselors. For further online resources about sexual abuse, assault, and rape, go to our Links Page or check out our Self Help Library for books about sexual abuse, assault, and rape. Or, if you would like to participate in a free, anonymous online screening program for PTSD, go here.
When someone you know is experiencing difficulties, you may feel helpless and unsure how to assist your friend. Here are some basic strategies for how you can help:
It is also important to take any talk of suicide seriously; up to 80% of people who commit suicide have told someone they are thinking about it. If you think a friend is suicidal, get help immediately--even if this means breaking a confidence. Involve others who can help, such as your friend's parents, counselors, residence life staff, and university police. Also be sure to review the information on Suicide above.
Above all, remember that it is not your responsibility to solve your friend's problems. It is definitely okay to set limits with your friend about how much you are willing to be involved. Be sure to take care of your own needs, and don't forget that help is available for you if you need it. You may also find it helpful to review this handout on Limit-Setting for setting appropriate boundaries with your friend.
For more information on helping your friend with specific issues, including thoughts of suicide, visit our Helping Others page. If you still have concerns about helping a friend, please do not hesitate to call our office at 585-245-5716 and ask either to speak with the on-call counselor or to schedule a consultation appointment.. For further online resources about various mental health topics, go to our Links Page or check out our Self Help Library for book resources.
Note: This page has information about some common mental health issues that people experience. This list of mental health issues and related topics is certainly not exhaustive, and if an issue isn’t listed here, that does not mean it isn’t a real concern or valid reason to seek counseling. If there are other topics you think we should include on this page and/or you wish to report a broken link, please let us know.