Coming to Terms with Depression

The following is an anonymous post written by a student with Depression for IU Depression Awareness and Screening Week (#IUDASW). He/she is now a member of Crimson Corps. Learn more about Crimson Corps here.

By: A Crimson Corps Student

At the end of my freshmen year of college, my Facebook feed was filled with posts from my old high school peers blogging about the lessons they’ve learned over their first year in college, and the experiences they’ve shared with new friends. I cannot tell you how many times I would reread those posts, see how many people commented or liked those posts, and how many times I questioned what was wrong with me and why my story was not the same. It was not until I was diagnosed with Depression the following summer that I began to understand.

When I left for college, I quickly realized that I was not adjusting as quickly or easily as I had previously thought. That belief was reinforced and strengthened every time I logged onto a social media account and saw the positive experiences my friends were having at their new schools.

Within two months of leaving home, I was not sleeping or eating on a regular schedule. I was overcome with anxiety stepping into my large lecture classes because there were too many people surrounding me and conversing with one another. I was exhausted all of the time, except for when I would finally climb into bed. Not wanting to worry my family and friends, I never revealed how much I was actually struggling. And the times when I would confide in them, they always promised that everyone adjusts to college life differently and that it would get better with time. However, things became worse.

I started to miss my classes. At first it was just one or two classes when I was having a rough day, and then came the days where I would only get out of bed to give myself enough time to make it seem like I went to class so that my roommate wouldn’t find out that I laid in bed all day. I had always prided myself in the fact that I was a strong student and never skipped a day of high school, and now I was missing several classes each day for days in a row. What happened to the unapologetically happy person I used to be? Why could no one see I was struggling? When would I be able to look my friends and family in the eye and tell them the truth?

This is the state I was in when my family came after spring finals to bring me home for the summer. But my family didn’t notice, and I don’t blame them. Not only was I extremely good at hiding what I was going through, but I was also excited for the first time in months to be home for more than just a few weeks.

Once home, I decided to see my therapist again, who officially diagnosed me with clinical Depression. At first, I was relieved to finally put a name on the feelings I was experiencing, and then I grew angry. It wasn’t fair. I already had my rough patch. I felt that going through middle school with a debilitating case of obsessive compulsive disorder, and working harder than ever to learn how to control it meant that I was set in recovery mode.

It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that I have Depression and need to learn a new skill set to live with both depression and anxiety, but I was soon able to accept that part of myself. I began to see strength and resilience in myself, instead of weakness, laziness, and hopelessness.

I was able to open up to my family and tell them about the year I had been through, and their support gave me the courage to open up to a few of my friends. However, the first friend I confided in lead me to doubt myself again. Instead of being met with support and love, my friend responded with comments rooted in social stigma. He told me that while I was one of the most anxious people he knows, I was also one of the most positive and lighthearted. He told me that Depression “just wasn’t me” and that I only needed to keep my chin up because “happiness is a choice.” For a moment, I doubted myself and fed into the stigma that surrounds mental illness, until I told my story to my best friend. The support I received helped me to move past the comments rooted in stigma, and I began to heal. Now, I am able to notice my triggers and recognize when I am headed on a downward spiral. I have a toolset to use when life becomes overwhelming, and as a result, I am a stronger woman.

Political Stress Reduction 101

Election ahead yellow highway road sign

Do the debates have your stomach tied in a knot? Tired of watching your friends argue on social media? Here are five tips for lowering political stress as Election Day approaches.

  1. Turn anxiety into action. Avoid just stewing about the other candidate(s). Instead, try to figure out ways you can act, like training to work at a polling location. Educate yourself as deeply as you can, write to public officials in support of a cause you believe in, or find volunteer work to alleviate some of many stressors our world faces.
  2. Search for calm news sources and avoid those that shout and argue. Argumentative news sources are nearly guaranteed to raise stress levels. Laugh, when you can, at sound bites. The world’s complexity can rarely be reduced to a pat phrase. Balance your viewing of straight news with humorous parodies. They can be informative in their own way but also provide stress-relieving humor.
  3. Vary your news sources. If you rely mainly on social media, try a newspaper, a thoughtful blog, or listening to the radio. Challenge yourself to see the other side of meaningful situations or questions.
  4. Avoid talking politics with people that you know are dogmatic, cannot see all sides of a question, or who have no empathy with the “other side” and are rigid believers. Such conversations are guaranteed to raise your stress level and are futile. Actively avoid them.
  5. Challenge yourself to find calming, helpful ways of thinking. Our representative democracy has resisted extremes for well over two hundred years. While it (as with any governmental institution) has its vulnerabilities, it has evolved and survived. Remind yourself of its durability and of our responsibilities to improve and preserve it.

Web Wednesdays

Computer key - days of the week WednesdayHaving a hard time adjusting to life as a college student? Need help with stress, time management, friends, or study skills but don’t have time to actually get it? Try Web Wednesdays, FREE interactive online workshops to help you adjust to college and be more successful.

“What I like about our web-based services is that I get to work with people who might otherwise be hesitant to come into our building,” said Kellen Fox, CAPS Tele-Counselor. “Sometimes people feel more anxious in social situations. Being in the comfort of their own room makes things easier.”

Workshops are interactive and discussion-based with participation available via audio, video or chat–whichever you prefer.

Sessions take place at 2:30 p.m. To get started: go to iu.zoom.us or download the Zoom cloud meetings app. Use the ID number: 541-962-473.

Fall Semester Offerings

  • 10/26 Navigating the Party Scene
  • 11/2 Stress Management
  • 11/9 Time Management and Study Skills
  • 11/16 Navigating the Party Scene
  • 11/30 Stress Management
  • 12/7 Finals Prepstressprevention_poster

Future new offerings include workshops on finding friends, and roommate trouble. If you have other workshop topics you would like to see, please email Kellen Fox at kelfox at indiana.edu.

CAPS also offers individual tele-counseling on a regular basis using video chat. Services are the same price and length as onsite Health Center visits (and are included in the two free counseling visits each semester). For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 812-855-5711.

 

IU Depression Awareness and Screening Week

Depression

By Dr. Chris Meno, CAPS Psychologist and Outreach Coordinator

Depression is one of the most common reasons students come to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). 1 in 10 college students experience Depression each year, and Depression is the number one reason students drop out of college. That’s why it’s so important for all of us to know the symptoms of Depression and how we can help a friend or student going through this illness.

October 17-21 is Depression Awareness and Screening Week at IU and CAPS is offering free, anonymous Depression screenings online and in-person screenings (Monday Oct. 17, 6-9 p.m. at Teter; Tuesday Oct. 18, 6-9 p.m. at SRSC; and Wednesday Oct. 19, 6-9 p.m. at Eigenmann). We’re also offering Depression screenings in our Medical Clinic, and our social media will be full of helpful information, articles, stats, and videos about Depression (#IUDASW)

Let’s start with a question people always ask: “What is Depression and how is it different from sadness?” Sadness is a normal emotion that we all feel from time to time. It’s often due to life events (e.g., not getting the internship you wanted), but sometimes we can’t identify why we feel down. Depression is much more than feeling down. In addition to low mood, people experience significant changes in sleep, appetite/weight, fatigue, concentration and capacity for pleasure, and they can have thoughts about death or suicide. These symptoms affect the person’s ability to complete their day-to-day activities like attending classes or jobs, completing homework, and nurturing relationships, and the symptoms persist nearly every day for a minimum of two weeks or longer. Depression can occur in response to a life event (e.g., the death of a loved one), but often there is no connection to what’s happening in your life. (Remember, a medical illness does not need a “reason” to begin.) Besides Major Depressive Disorder described above, Dysthymia, Bipolar Disorder, and Cyclothymia are other, less common forms of what are called Affective Disorders.

So, if the symptoms of Depression are so clear, why don’t people just get treatment? (Nationally, about 2/3 of people never do!) A few things often get in the way. Here they are, (debunked).

  1. Sometimes people think Depression will go away on it’s own. (While some medical conditions clear up on their own, this one can take quite a while).
  2. Sometimes people think they can’t truly have Depression if they can get out of bed each day. (Those TV commercials about Depression can be misleading – folks with mild or even moderate Depression are probably sitting near you right now.)
  3. Others think having Depression means you must be weak, not trying hard enough to feel better, or even “crazy”. (Depression is a medical illness that affects behavior and emotions, much like Dementia and strokes!)
  4. Stigma is another common reason – some students worry others will find out or judge them. Depression can feel even more shameful for some students of color or international students.

Now that we hopefully cleared up those misconceptions, what can YOU do to help a friend or student who might be experiencing Depression?

Most importantly, let them know you’ve noticed a change and are concerned. How about saying “Miguel, it seems like you haven’t been sleeping much and are distracted. How are you doing?” or “Julia, you don’t seem like yourself lately – you haven’t been hanging out with us as much. What’s up?” You can let your friends know about CAPS and encourage them to make an appointment. “Hey, did you know IU students get two free counseling visits at CAPS each semester? Maybe you could go see what ideas they have for helping you feel better. I can come with you if you want.”

Here are other ways to participate this week (and beyond):

  1. Take our Depression Screening and/or encourage a friend to do so.
  2. Repost this blog and/or our other related social media posts this week.
  3. Stop using mental health terms insensitively (e.g., “the weather is so bipolar”, “my teacher went on a psychotic rant in class”, “I feel so depressed today”).
  4. Wear a green ribbon for Depression Awareness Week.

We all need to work together to reduce stigma against Depression and mental health. Let’s start now.

Cook with Katie – Tailgating Edition!

Football Tailgate BBQ Grill on GrassBy Katie Shepherd

Hey there! Welcome back to #CookwithKatie, Tailgating (and Homecoming) Edition! I don’t know about you, but I am super psyched about the cooler weather and seeing the leaves change color. I love sweater weather! Of course with fall comes football! And with football, comes tailgating and lots of yummy (and often times unhealthy!) foods. Today’s post is about making healthy (but still yummy) choices before and during this weekend’s big homecoming game!

I think the best way to start off having a healthy tailgate is with a yummy fresh fruit and veggie platter. Tailgating parties usually last several hours and you’re munching along the whole time. Having some low calorie options available is a great way to be able to continue to munch, while not adding inches to your waistline. Pair vegetables with a greek yogurt dip or hummus for dipping instead of traditional ranch. Fruit is sweet enough on its own (no dip needed!) and can also serve as a dessert.

Now for the main event—Chili!

Nothing says fall and football more to me than a warm filling bowl of chili. This version is meat-free, and contains plenty of protein from the heart healthy beans, but feel free to add ground turkey or any other lean meat if you’d rather. Let’s get cooking!

Katie’s Lean & Mean Chili

  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can corn
  • I can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 quart reduced sodium chicken or veggie stock

chiliFirst, swizzle your olive oil in the bottom of a stock pot and add chopped veggies. Saute these until the onion becomes translucent (usually about 5 minutes). Next, add your spices and saute for another minute. Then, add the remaining ingredients, bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Easy, right?

Next, add some toppings! My personal favs are shredded cheddar cheese and reduced-fat greek yogurt (you can even use the kind you bought for veggie dipping!). Greek yogurt is a great substitution for sour cream–you won’t even miss the added fat, I promise. If you like your chili a little spicier, feel free to kick it up a notch by adding some cayenne pepper or chopped red onion.

Bon Appetit, and enjoy the homecoming game!

Dr. Debby Herbenick to Speak at Vulvas, Vaginas, and Vibrators Event

v3_logo_finalversion_forwebEver wonder how to stay sexually healthy? How large the clitoris is and why it’s so important to achieving sexual pleasure?

Find these answers and more at Vulvas, Vaginas, and Vibrators, a sexual health fair on October 20 in the IMU Georgian Room from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Participants can visit booths to learn more about how to stay healthy and get the most from your sexuality, then stay to talk openly and honestly with renowned author, researcher, Kinsey Confidential columnist, and Sex Salon founder, Dr. Debby Herbenick.

Herbenick will answer questions from the audience from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

iuhc_sexploration_logo_round_finalSafety products, vibrators, books, and prizes will be available.

Eye Clinic Expands Services to Include University Employees

Are your eyes red and irritated? Did your angelic four-year-old poke you in the eye? The Indiana University Health Center Eye Clinic is now servicing employees on Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plans, and offering extended hours to all.

eyeclinic_banner

Since 1980, the eye clinic has proven to be a welcome service to its patient base, expanding in both hours and size due to a high patient demand. Its staff now consists of six doctors.

“I’m thrilled to offer IU employees the opportunity to have their medical eye care needs seen in the heart of campus,” said Jane Ann Grogg, Eye Clinic Director. “This is a great opportunity for employees to utilize our services. Our doctors are committed to excellence in eye care and we have a pharmacy here for easy prescription pickup.”

Full services include:

  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Eye related trauma
  • Visual disturbances
  • Headache
  • Migraines
  • Eye lid twitching
  • STDs of the eye/eyelid
  • Contact lens associated red eye

Walk-in services are available or you may schedule an appointment at 812-855-8417.

  • Monday: 1:00 – 4:30pm
  • Tuesday: 1:00 – 4:30pm
  • Wednesday: 8:00am – 4:30 pm
  • Thursday: 8:00am – 4:30 pm
  • Friday: 8:00am – 4:30 pm

Please note that the eye clinic does not bill routine eye examinations or offer fittings for contact lenses.

Cook with Katie – Vegan Style

On today’s episode of Cook with Katie, I’ll be cooking. . .nothing!

No, I haven’t gotten lazy! I would rather discuss a topic that frequently comes up in my discussions with students: if a food is vegan, does that automatically make it healthy?”

There’s a lot of information out there (both good and bad!) about food and nutrition. Everyone seems to have an opinion about food, and there’s often conflicting information regarding what is and what isn’t healthy. A good portion of my time in nutrition counseling is spent debunking common myths. Today, I’d like to spend some time talking about vegan foods, and whether everything that has a vegan label should be considered “healthy.”

What is a vegan diet?

People who follow a vegan lifestyle do not consume any animal products. These include meat, eggs, dairy, and for some, honey (beyond food, most people who are vegan will not use leather). Many people choose to eat vegan for health reasons, while others are related to ethics. However, I find that most people associate “vegan” as synonymous with “healthy”.

For the most part, many vegan foods are indeed incredibly nutritious: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, nuts, and seeds are all FANTASTIC sources of nutrition. However, there are other foods that fall into the vegan category that aren’t so fantastically nutritious:

  • SUGAR is vegan (it comes from sugar cane or sugar beet plant).
  • MARGARINE is a vegan butter substitute created by hydrogenating oils (usually soybean oil—which is vegan). This process of hydrogenation creates artificial trans fats that increase one’s risk for developing heart disease.
  • PALM OIL is another type of plant oil that can behave similarly to margarine in a food product, but does not contain trans fats. However, harvesting palm oil has become so mainstream, it is heavily destructing land and forests throughout Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. Foods that contain palm oil are not an environmentally friendly choice.

Frequently, I have students justify their food choices based on certain labels, such as something being organic, vegan, or gluten-free. This mainly happens with dessert foods. It’s easy to replace baked goods that typically use butter with margarine or palm oil and be able to call that product vegan. With frozen desserts, you can replace cow’s milk with coconut or almond milk. But when you look at the calorie, fat, and sugar content of that vegan cookie, pie, or pastry, it’s very similar to their conventional counterparts. I also find people justifying having larger servings of these desserts.

“I ate 6 cookies. But they were vegan (or gluten free, or organic) so that isn’t as bad, right?”

Let’s examine 2 nutrition fact labels so you can see what I mean:

Microsoft Word - ice cream nutrition facts table.docx

 

The column on the left is an ice cream nutritional facts label for vegan ice cream. The column on the right is the same flavor, only it is the conventional dairy counterpart. Although the vegan variety does have 40 fewer calories per serving, and is slightly lower in fat, the sugar content is very similar at 26 g versus 28 g (this would be 6.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving in the vegan variety compared to 7 teaspoons of sugar in the dairy version).

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that food companies are broadening their selections and creating products for people to enjoy who are following certain lifestyles and eating plans. My goal here is to clarify that just because a product is dairy-free, vegan, or some other classification, does not automatically make it healthy. Use scrutiny and check out the ingredients and amount of sugar in a product before determining whether it’s healthy or something that should be used in moderation.

Need more advice? Come see me (or another one of our fantastic team members)! Students who’ve paid the health fee receive one free nutrition appointment each semester.

Fall 2017 Peer Health and Wellness Educator Program Accepting Applications

iuhc_peercounselor_finalThe application period for the Fall 2017 Peer Health and Wellness Educator (PHWE) program is now open through November 15.

The PHWE program trains student leaders to work on a variety of health and wellness programs that focus on five main areas of health outreach:

  1. Alcohol and Drug Awareness
  2. Nutrition Education
  3. Tobacco Cessation
  4. Sexual Health Promotion
  5. Stress Management

PHWE students challenge their peers to improve their overall health and wellness through positive, interactive, and fun health outreach programs.

“We currently have a diverse group of students who are not only conducting amazing outreach, but coming up with their own innovative ideas to add to our current health outreach programs,” said Aran Mordor, program coordinator.

Comprehensive training for those selected will take place throughout the Spring 2017 semester. The training will prepare students to facilitate dynamic outreach programs; encourage physical, mental, and emotional health; serve as a healthy role models to other students; create informative awareness events; and promote community support to create a healthy campus culture.​

The opportunities are endless when joining the team. Students will acquire work experience as representatives for our health promotion on campus while building leadership skills and bulking up their resume.

Students can apply directly online on the program’s website and will be contacted for follow up interviews.

Discover Your Potential at “Wellness at Wells”

wellnessatwells_digital_signage

Beginning October 2, students will have the opportunity to discover their health potential in a central location on campus at Wellness at Wells, a partnership between the Health Center and IU Libraries.

Wellness at Wells offers students a chance to explore their own health and well-being with walk-in wellness assessments by Certified Wellcoaches in the Wells Library Learning Commons.

“We are excited to partner with the Library on this new initiative to support the mission of the university in promoting well-being while providing opportunities for academic success,” said Cathlene Hardy-Hansen, Director of Health & Wellness Education at IU Health Center.

In addition to wellness assessments, other services will be offered on a rotating basis. These include chair massages, wellness coaching, biofeedback, tobacco cessation, and aromatherapy, along with nutrition, sexual health, mental health, and other various workshops.

“Serving the whole person is an exciting opportunity we will regularly offer students visiting the Wells’ Learning Commons,” said Kate Otto, Learning Commons Librarian. “Having the Health Center offer services and guidance on things like sleep, nutrition, de-stressing, mental health, tobacco cessation, and more will serve students on a whole new level in a location that is accessible and convenient.”

This is the first of many new academic year health and wellness initiatives here at the Health Center. In the near future, we will launch Student Wellness Coaching (#AdultingIU) and Employee Wellness Coaching (#WellnessAtWork) programs, as well as a larger tobacco initiative, Clear the Air: Refresh IU.

Follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for weekly updates on the rotating activities of room 138, and contact Nick Metzger (nbmetzge@indiana.edu) to book a workshop.

Wellness Assessment Hours (Wells Library, Learning Commons Services Hub), Fall 2016:

  • Tuesdays 1:00-3:00
  • Tuesdays 5:00-8:00
  • Sundays 5:00-8:00

Rotating Service Hours (Wells Library, Learning Commons Room 138), Fall 2016:

  • Tuesdays 1:00-3:00
  • Sundays 5:30-7:30