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02-10 Fighting depression and enjoying freedom on your own

Fighting depression and enjoying freedom on your own

Independence! Finally!

Living on your own is exciting – it’s the first time you really feel like you have your destiny in your hands. You get to decide when you wake up what you’re going to wear, what you’re going to spend the day doing and when and how you’re going to do all of it. That’s freedom.

So why are you so depressed and worried all the time?

Depression and anxiety are diseases that deceive the people who live with them. They’ll tell a person he or she is alone, in danger and nobody understands, none of which are true. Anxiety disorders represent the most common form of mental illness in the United States – the National Institute of Mental Health says 18 percent of the population deals with them. As for depression, 6.7 percent of Americans are affected by major depression disorder.

The good news is that both conditions are treatable. They’re even preventable with a few easy lifestyle changes. Read on.

It’s not just homesickness

Depression and anxiety are illnesses that can be triggered by a number of things. For college students, the initial excitement of seeing one’s parents drive away can turn into homesickness, especially when winter rolls around. Juggling classes, work, friends and family naturally causes anxiety. Topping it off is the loneliness people newly on their own often experience.

Homesickness can be seriously debilitating, but it’s a condition that responds easily to familiar things, like checking in with family and friends back home. Depression and anxiety disorders are serious conditions featuring prolonged periods of sadness, worry and frustration. Depression even has physical symptoms like fatigue and aches and pains.

Overall, college students often report difficulties with their mental health. A 2013 study conducted by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors found 41.6 percent of students reported anxiety, and 36.4 percent reported depression. The directors surveyed reported 21 percent of their counseling center students presented severe mental health concerns.

Fighting depression and anxiety

It’s important to remember there are differences between the occasional periods of sadness and worry that everyone experiences and serious mental disorders like anxiety and depression. Conditions like major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder are serious problems that greatly benefit from professional treatment. However, there are a few simple things anyone can do when on their own to keep worries and sadness to a minimum:

  • Exercise. It sounds like a cliché, but exercise is the best thing anyone can do to stave off depression and worry. When people are physically active, their bodies release endorphins, a powerful neurotransmitter that produces positive feelings in the body. Exercise can help develop better sleeping habits. Poor sleep has been linked with depression. Being active is also a good way to avoid holing one’s self up in a room. Isolation can fuel depression, too
  • Technology can help. Social media programs like Facebook and Skype can keep people immediately connected with those they love, preventing feelings of isolation
  • Make use of counseling programs. Many schools provide free anxiety and depression help for students, staffed by professionals

The Sovereign Health Adolescent Program offers effective, research-backed treatment to boys and girls aged 12 to 17. We treat addiction, mental health and co-occurring conditions. Our residential program is staffed with compassionate experts in the fields of treatment and therapy who are trained to work with adolescents and will be with them every step of the way. For more information, call our 24/7 helpline.

Written by Brian Moore, Sovereign Health Group writer

For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at

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