Mental health is becoming a more prominent discussion and better understood in the Ola community. Students have found healthier coping mechanisms with their mental health and have discovered better ways to help those around them. They are getting a better grasp of what depression is and what dealing with depression can do to someone’s mental health.
“Depression and anxiety are mental illnesses that should be taken as seriously as physical illness. Just like how a sprained ankle or a broken bone would affect your everyday way of life, so does depression and anxiety. Living with depression and anxiety is like walking around with weights on your ankles, wrists and chest,” Sarah Plemons, senior, said.
Mental health is often overlooked because people solely focus on their physical health. Just looking at someone’s physical health does not tell you how they are doing mentally. People bottle up their emotions and feelings for many reasons and do not always say exactly how they are feeling.
“There are people sometimes that can look like they are not depressed and they’re functioning well. We call that high functioning depression. But, in reality, they are struggling privately,” Ms. Ahonen, Psychology teacher, said.
The signs of depression are not as noticeable as the media makes them out to be. Just because someone is having a bad day or feeling sad about something does not exactly mean they are suffering from depression. Depression is prolonged sadness that happens over an extended period of time.
“Distancing yourself from friends and family, always being in your room, not eating or eating too much, letting your grades slip, lack of motivation, always tired, not taking care of your hygiene, staying up late and waking up late [can all be signs of depression],” Kimberly Cox, sophomore, said.
There are different types of depression; clinical, major, situational, and more. In highschoolers, we mainly see situational depression.
“In high school depression, we tend to be identified with situational depression, where something happened in somebody’s life that causes them to enter a depressive state… so it would be things like, normally they are very outgoing and now they’re very withdrawn, they lack motivation… Things that one time interested them do not… [They] just withdraw from family and friends. [They] just do not want to get out of bed and not wanting to engage,” Ahonen said.
Depression might seem like it is unstoppable, but there are ways to stop your depressive thoughts.
“What people can do is they can exercise. Exercising also generates serotonin and dopamine and makes you feel better. You can limit your sugar intake and your caffeine intake… Make sure you force yourself to get up and interact with others because doing those things will help you not stay in that depressive state,” Ahonen said.
It might seem hard to even wake up in the morning, but it is important to get out and get active when you are going through depression. Laying in bed and doing nothing all day only makes the feeling worse.
“Think of depression kind of like a bathtub, once I push that stopper down, I start filling it up with water. The more water I put in it, the bigger the problem. And I’ve got to learn, if I’m depressed, I’ve got to reach down and pull out that stopper and start letting those problems float out, drain out,” Ahonen said.