Depression and Anxiety Day: Psychologist recommends healthy actions

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Photo by Casey Pollard.

The Newtonite

by Connor Vasu

“How many students in this room get nine hours of sleep on average, which is the baseline for healthy adolescents?” asked Richard Ginsburg, the Assistant Professor of Psychology at Newton Wellesley Hospital.

About a dozen members of the hundreds-strong audience raised their hand. Most, when asked, only sleep five to eight hours a night.

Sleep, and other actions like exercise and meditation, are part of what Ginsburg called “go-to actions,” which he said ward off stress. Ginsburg spoke yesterday A-block in the auditorium as a part of Depression and Anxiety Day.

In his presentation, Ginsburg outlined what depression may look or feel like, and recommended positive actions to take to help repel symptoms.

Ginsburg first stressed the normalcy of ups and downs in high school. “High school is hard, with the SATs, APs, and romantic issues,” he said. “Most students go through normal mood swings.”

However, it is when mood swings consistently feel negative that depression or anxiety might be the cause. “Some signs of depression are declining academic performance, your relationships worsening, self-medication, and, in some cases, suicide.”

From the perspective of a friend, someone suffering might be down more days than not, have disrupted sleep, withdraw into himself, be worried or guilty, lose concentration, or be irritable. Although the friend may want to keep the depression a secret, if the friend is not being safe, Ginsburg recommends telling a mental health counselor. “You will be doing it out of love, not betrayal,” he said.

To treat depression, Ginsburg strongly recommends talking to a counselor. Most counselors will likely prescribe a combination of antidepressants and therapy.

Ginsburg stressed the importance of “go-to people,” which are trusted family or friends that one can rely on in difficult times. Similarly, “go-to behaviors” are individual actions like exercising regularly, getting an adequate amount of sleep, or meditating, that can help ward off stress.

“It is important to remember that when you are in pain, you do not need to suffer alone,” said Ginsburg.