More than just being stressed out

Nedda Pourahmady

Anxiety, depression impacts lives of young adults

Steve Ross, sophomore computer science major, suffered from manic- depression which may have been caused by stress from homesickness and academic demands. According to, one out of four young adults will experience a depressive episode by

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Anxiety and depression are becoming more common among young adults.

More than 40 million Americans are diagnosed with anxiety disorders annually, and about 7 percent of these people include college students, said Gina Mangiaracina, program and public relations manager for Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

Anxiety disorders can be placed into six categories including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder, she said.

Treatments for anxiety and depression include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication or a combination of the two, Mangiaracina said.

“Treatments vary from person to person and depend on the type and severity of the disorder,” she said.

Bijan Bastani, psychiatrist for NorthCoast Clinical Trials, Inc., in Beachwood, Ohio, said the first step in treatment of depression is to diagnose it correctly.

“The disorder needs to be explored, whether it is just depression, bipolar depression or secondary depression due to substance abuse or other medical conditions,” he said.

A person must first distinguish depression either as a mere symptom or the actual illness itself, Bastani said.

“Just being unhappy or frustrated because of an external stress or an event does not mean an illness,” he said. “What constitutes an illness is the persistence of a depressed or sad mood, at least for two weeks for the most part of the time.”

Bastani said younger adults may not be psychologically sophisticated enough to know they’re exhibiting symptoms of depression.

“They may show loss of interest in academic, social and other activities,” he said.

Steve Ross, sophomore computer science major, said his manic-depression has had a huge impact on his social life.

“There are times where I don’t want to be around anyone, don’t feel like doing anything, can be very ornery and easily tempered,” Ross said.

Bastani said stress, caused by such occurrences as being away from home or academic demands, may be a risk factor for developing depression.

Ross said the hardest part about the disorder is that many times he feels a certain way for no particular reason.

“There is no way to control how I feel, but there are ways to control how I react to it, or how I can let other people perceive me,” Ross said.

Younger adults may be born with genetic vulnerabilities for getting depressed, Bastani said.

Moreover, Bastani said drug and alcohol use or abuse may play a major role in depression.

“Friends and roommates should be aware of each other’s behavior, support and help to be referred to appropriate treatment facilities,” Bastani said.

Ross said he has learned to deal with his manic-depression naturally.

“I have read and experienced many times where people have used harmful things to deal with the disorder such as drugs and alcohol,” Ross said. “Fortunately, I have been able to stay clear of all forms.”

Bastani said psychotherapy is used to treat anxiety and depression, and there are several medications used to treat depression, such as Prozac and Zoloft.

Bastani said it is important to take depression seriously and to search for proper diagnosis and treatments.

“It is a serious disease and has significant morbidity and mortality,” Bastani said.

For more information on depression or anxiety, visit Psychological Services in the DeWeese Health Center, or call (330) 672-2487.

Contact features correspondent Nedda Pourahmady at [email protected].