by Amy Rice

The Healthy Choice Voice (HCV) is historically a food and exercise guide to staying healthy at college. However, the fact of the matter is, there is a lot more to health than taking care of your body; you must also to take care of your mind. Mental health is equally as important as physical health, especially with the mentally taxing job of being a college student. With that being said, the HCV is switching things up. This week’s topic: depression.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is “a common but serious mental illness marked by sad or anxious feelings.” Some of the most common symptoms include sadness, lack of energy, problems concentrating, helplessness, disinterest in social activities, change in appetite, thoughts of suicide, and irritability. If these are symptoms that you see in yourself, or in a friend, seek help immediately. When depression is detected early on, it is easier to treat.

Researchers say that depression is becoming increasingly more common on college campuses across the United States. Some students develop depression while at college, but most cases of depression were diagnosed pre-admittance, and those students are entering school knowing that they are struggling with this mental imbalance. Because of this, it is vital for students to be aware of the symptoms and to have the knowledge of how to handle depression.

There are ways to help treat and prevent depression on your own. Exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep all have a strong effect on one’s mood. Exercising on a regular basis triggers the same growth of brain cells that anti-depressants do. Eating healthy foods will keep up your energy without forcing you to crash for an hour after a big meal. And we all know, getting a good night’s sleep will make or break your day. Mood swings and irritability are common symptoms of sleep deprivation.

However, if assistance is needed, Mount Saint Mary College provides free confidential counseling for all students, faculty, and administration. The Counseling Center located next to Elmwood provides qualified mental health professionals for the benefit of The Mount community. To make an appointment, stop by the Counseling Center 24 hours in advance, or call 845-569-3115.