It's been an exciting start for students returning to school and especially for those entering college for the first time!

By now, everybody is in his or her dorm and happy with his or her class schedule. Hopefully, meal plans and textbooks are coming together smoothly, too. Prayerfully, you know where your college community church is located. Of course, meeting new friends is always a time for excitement and by now, everybody is looking forwards to TGIF celebrations both on and off campus.

However, there are some key things that college students do not often pay attention to until it is too late. Those key things are our emotional well-being during the college days. Embedded under excitement over moving into your own dorm away from your parents and younger siblings (finally!!), can exist anxiety and worry which can lead to depression in no time at all!

The start of school can be overwhelming for many students. These worries may be justified, but it is important to stay in control and not let the worries knock you down. As you attend classes, study and complete homework, begin and/or end relationships, adjust to not having mom/dad holding your hand, allowances, and plan for your weekend parties/respites, etc., please remember these handy tips to fight depression and prevent it from developing into a more serious mental condition:

1) Avoid the trap of alcohol! College students continue to rank high in alcohol consumption and over-doing the drinking can happen easily. Remember alcohol is a depressant and it will take your mood DOWN after the buzz wears off! Then you will want the buzz again to avoid the lows and the cycle slowly begins with addiction to alcohol - beware!

2) Stay in control when going to parties by setting clear and firm boundaries against alcohol binging and recreational drug use. Use a buddy system to adhere to these pre-set boundaries. A friend who lets you get drunk and reckless is NOT a friend! This will prevent mistakes and poor judgment from happening that will haunt you in college and interfere with your studies;

3) If you find yourself unable to control your weekend drinking, seek help immediately from the campus counselor, or by contacting Alcoholics Anonymous, or from a responsible adult you can trust;

4) Do NOT encourage others to drink or use recreational drugs!;

5) Remember that reckless drinking/drug use can lead to sexual promiscuity which can lead to Sexually Transmitted Diseases/infections (STD's) and/or unwanted pregnancies or AIDS/HIV! If you must have sex, practice SAFE SEX at all times. Of course, ABSTINENCE is the best practice;

6) If you are having trouble with any subjects, see campus counseling, tutoring, or get a study buddy right away. Do NOT let your pride get in the way of asking for academic help. Can't find a study buddy in your subject, then FORM a study group or ask the instructor for names of students who might study with you!!!!

7) Don't ignore those phone calls from your parents. Set a routine with staying in contact so that both of you can be on alert if the routine is broken. SHOW your maturity and responsibleness...

8) Have a clear emergency plan with your family and STICK TO IT!

9) As the weeks pick up speed with classes and assignments, you might experience symptoms of depression. These symptoms could be normal and range from low to mild depression. You should be alarmed into seeking professional help if these symptoms last longer than two consecutive weeks (or if you notice these symptoms in a friend/roommate/child). If any one or combination of the following symptoms last longer than two weeks, you should consult a health provider and tell them specifically about these symptoms:

~ persistent periods of intense sadness (crying spells) that won't go away;

~ periods of irritability for no reason (quick to snap at others);

~ poor appetite (rapid weight loss) or extreme appetite (rapid weight gain);

~ unusual nervousness or excessive worry;

~ lost of interest in normal activities (skipping classes to sleep in, suddenly doesn't want to ever leave dorm);

~ periods of restlessness;

~ Lack of energy (won't bathe, clean side of dorm, cook, eat, avoid laundry, etc.)

~ Decrease in self-esteem or strong guilty feelings about anything/everything;

~ Inability to concentrate on school work, television, conversations, etc.;

~ Chronic pain/physical problems that won't go away;

~ Increased risk-taking behaviors such as drug use, alcohol use, sexual promisicuity, etc.

~ Periods of feelings of deep hopelessness;

~ Thoughts or otherwise communicating thoughts of suicide (Most people who attempt suicide leave clues before hand such as doodling about death, talking about ending their life, drawing objects associated with suicide, begin collecting pills, bullets/gun, or rope, and/or totally withdraw from friends, family, etc.); and

~ People who attempt or plan Suicide most always tell one person ahead of time about their suicidal thoughts and/or plans. Teach your college kid to break confidences with a person who talks about suicide and tell an adult (School counselor, parent, teacher, physician at a clinic or call American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at 1-888-333-AFSP) immediately!

It is important to remember that depression is treatable and if caught early enough, you may prevent a more serious mental condition or suicide. According to the National Institute on Mental Illness, the onset of mental illness manifests in women between the age of 18 and early 20's. If any one of the above or a combination of the above occurs to you or a friend or your child, a professional healthcare provider should be contacted at once. Many colleges and universitites offer assistance in seeking mental healthcare on a confidential level. You can also contact any of the below organizations from the privacy of your dorm!

Lastly, remember that a daily diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and exercise can be successful in fighting the early signs of depression along with a medical check-up!

Visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness at
Visit the Association of Pastoral Counselors at
Visit Association of Black Psychologists at
Visit the Suicide Awareness/Voices of Education at

See what others are saying about this transcending and phenominal book at ~ 2010 Strathmore's Distinguished Who's Who!

Author's Bio: 

Agnes B. Levine is the Founder/President of Levine-Oliver Publisher. She has recently been selected for inclusions the Strathmore's Distinguished Who's Who for 2010 and resides in Maryland with her three young-adult children.

Agnes is the author of the transcending book: "Cooling Well Water: A Collection of Work By An African-American Bipolar Woman" ISBN 13 978-0-9754612-0-4
Available NOW at or

This book specifically targets the fears and stigmas of the African-American race group to increase awareness and encourage mental wellness.