Mental Health

Your Mental Health: It’s Worth Looking After

By Mar 5, 2014 No Comments

Let’s face it: being a student is stressful.  You’re expected maintain good grades, have an active social life, and be involved in extra-curricular activities, while living on a shoestring budget. You may even have a part-time job.  When money and time are short, the pressure can build up and become overwhelming.

Studies show that most emotional disorders begin, or are acknowledged, between the ages of 18 and 30.  But many people who struggle with such disorders don’t seek treatment at first (and some never do). Unfortunately, there is still stigma around the issue of mental illness, especially in South Africa, so people often fear the consequences of asking for help.

The good news is that emotional disorders like depression, anxiety, and panic disorders are easily treated.  Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can be more difficult to treat, but recovery is possible with the right psychiatrist and medication.

Here is a summary of some of the disorders most commonly experienced by students, with their symptoms listed.  Remember, knowledge is power.

Depressive disorders

  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming sadness
  • Fits of crying
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Numbness of emotion
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Loss of appetite

Anxiety disorders

  • Constant or intermittent feelings of fear and nervousness
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Low self-esteem
  • Panic attacks

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Overwhelming desire to perform the same behaviours repeatedly, such as hand-washing
  • Counting and categorising everything obsessively
  • Worrying excessively about neatness, and items being in their right place
  • Checking and re-checking that the door is locked or the stove is off
  • Anxiety if not able to perform the necessary counting or other rituals

Bipolar disorder (manic depression)

  • Depression symptoms, alternating with periods of high energy
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Low self-esteem


  • Psychotic episodes, which may include hallucinations and paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Loss of social skills

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed here, go to your campus health centre or clinic and ask for help.  There is always treatment available and there is always hope. For more information, visit the South African Depression and Anxiety Group.

photo credit: Treasure Tia via photopin cc

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