Depression & Anxiety
note: If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, seek
professional help immediately through your healthcare professional,
or call 411 to get the phone number for the nearest local suicide
What is Depression
Depression is a disease that affects millions of Americans
each year, believed to be caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals
in the brain, called neurotransmitters.
regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status, can suffer
from depression. It is estimated that 19 million American adults suffer
from depression every year. Depression is not a weakness or a character
flawit is a real medical illness. But the good news is that with
proper treatment, 4 out of 5 patients will improve. (from Lexapro)
who suffer from depression are not just moody or have "the blues"
for a few days. They experience long periods of feeling very
sad and lose interest in social and daily activities. Many feel they
have no concentration and no energy. Depression can change the way a
person feels, thinks, and behaves.
Common symptoms of depression
or irritable mood most of the daynearly every day
of interest or pleasure in activities (such as hobbies, work, sex,
or being with friends) most of the daynearly every day
sudden change in weight (weight loss without dieting, gaining more
than 5% of body weight in 1 month) or a change in appetite
to sleep or sleeping too much nearly every day
or restlessness (observed by others) nearly every day
fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
concentrating or making decisions nearly every day
thoughts of death or suicide (or a suicide attempt or plan)
is a sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical
symptoms (such as sweating, tension, and increased heart rate)
Disorders are a group of serious yet treatable health problems affecting
one in 10 Americans; anxiety disorders are caused by a combination of
biological and environmental factors.
Causes an Anxiety Disorder?
believe that anxiety disorders are caused by a combination of biological
and environmental factors such as brain chemistry, life events,
personality, and genetic predisposition. This makes an anxiety disorder
much like other physical disorders, such as heart disease or diabetes.
There are many types of Anxiety Disorders: Listed below are a few from
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is characterized
by excessive, unrealistic worry that lasts six months or more; in adults,
the anxiety may focus on issues such as health, money, or career. In
addition to chronic worry, GAD symptoms include trembling, muscular
aches, insomnia, abdominal upsets, dizziness, and irritability.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In OCD, individuals
are plagued by persistent, recurring thoughts (obsessions) that reflect
exaggerated anxiety or fears; typical obsessions include worry about
being contaminated or fears of behaving improperly or acting violently.
The obsessions may lead an individual to perform a ritual or routine
(compulsions)-such as washing hands, repeating phrases or hoarding-to
relieve the anxiety caused by the obsession.
Panic Disorder. People with panic disorder suffer severe
attacks of panic-which may make them feel like they are having a heart
attack or are going crazy-for no apparent reason. Symptoms include heart
palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, sweating, trembling, tingling
sensations, feeling of choking, fear of dying, fear of losing control,
and feelings of unreality. Panic disorder often occurs with agoraphobia,
in which people are afraid of having a panic attack in a place from
which escape would be difficult, so they avoid these places.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can follow
an exposure to a traumatic event such as a sexual or physical assault,
witnessing a death, the unexpected death of a loved one, or natural
disaster. There are three main symptoms associated with PTSD: "reliving"
of the traumatic event (such as flashbacks and nightmares); avoidance
behaviors (such as avoiding places related to the trauma) and emotional
numbing (detachment from others); and physiological arousal such difficulty
sleeping, irritability or poor concentration.
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia). Social Anxiety Disorder
(SAD) is characterized by extreme anxiety about being judged by others
or behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment or ridicule. This
intense anxiety may lead to avoidance behavior. Physical symptoms associated
with this disorder include heart palpitations, faintness, blushing and
Specific phobias. People with specific phobias suffer
from an intense fear reaction to a specific object or situation (such
as spiders, dogs, or heights); the level of fear is usually inappropriate
to the situation, and is recognized by the sufferer as being irrational.
This inordinate fear can lead to the avoidance of common, everyday situations.
is Test Anxiety
What does test anxiety feel like?
students experience mainly physical symptoms, such as headaches, nausea,
faintness, feeling too hot or too cold, etc.
experience more emotional symptoms, such as crying easily, feeling irritable,
or getting frustrated quickly.
major problem of test anxiety is usually its effect on thinking ability;
it can cause you to blank out or have racing thoughts that are difficult
many students feel some level of anxiety when writing exams, most can
cope with that anxiety and bring it down to a manageable level.
Here are some tips for controlling test anxiety. (Taken from
Be well prepared for the test.
Include as much self-testing in your review as possible.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle:get enough sleep, good
nutrition, exercise, some personal "down" time, and a reasonable
amount of social interaction.
As you anticipate the exam, think positively, e.g.,
"I can do OK on this exam. I've studied and I know my stuff."
Engage in "thought stopping" if you find
that you are worrying a lot, mentally comparing yourself to your peers,
or thinking about what others may say about
your performance on this exam.
Before you go to bed on the night before the exam, make sure
to collect together anything that you will need for the exam
-- pen, pencil, ruler, eraser, calculator, etc. Double check the time
of the exam and the location.
Set the alarm clock and then get a good night's sleep
before the exam.
Get to the exam on time - not too late but not too early.
Don't talk to other students about the exam material
just before going into the exam.
Sit in a location in the exam room where you will
be distracted as little as possible.
As the papers are distributed, calm yourself down
by taking some slow deep breaths.
Make sure to carefully read any instructions on the
As you work on the exam, focus only on the exam, not
on what other students are doing or on thinking about past exams or
If you feel very anxious in the exam, take a few minutes
to calm yourself down. Stretch your arms and legs and then relax
them again. Do this a couple of times. Take a few slow deep breaths.
Do some positive internal self-talk; say to yourself, "I will be
OK, I can do this." Then direct your focus on questions; link questions
to their corresponding lecture and/or chapter.
If the exam is more difficult than you anticipated, try to
focus and just do your best. It might be enough to get you through,
even with a reasonable grade!
When the exam is over, treat yourself. If you don't
have any other commitments, maybe you can go to a movie with a friend.
If you have to study for other exams, you may have to postpone a larger
break, but a brief break can be the pick up that you need.
can take control of test anxiety so that your performance on a test
reflects your real standing in that course. If interfering levels of
test anxiety persist, however, talk to a counselor for some specialized
Disorders Association of America
Please send any comments or questions about this site to Hostmaster.
© 2009 College of the Siskiyous. All rights reserved.