Tag Archives: anxiety

Mental Health Matters

Depression is the number one reason students drop out of school, and it may lead to other mental illnesses or even to suicide.

“There’s so many statistics on it,” said Steven Wang, from CSUN Counseling Services and the coordinator of the campus’ Blues Project. “One of four students are more likely to have depression, and it’s not treated. Stress would be on that spectrum, as well.”

Many people still hold negative stereotypes of mental illness as dangerous or a sign of weakness, and those stereotypes may keep people from getting help.

“I think the stigma comes from people not being familiar or just not knowing what the behaviors are,” said Ebony Harper, an advisor to students in CSUN Student Housing. “So it can be seen as acting out, or you have behavior problems, so you get this thing that people don’t want to be around you.”

Organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Health have been emphasizing the importance of recognizing and treating mental illness, but mental health is often not talked about within families.

NAMI board member Michelle Thomas said there is a lack of knowledge, but that most people with mental illnesses lead normal lives if they get treatment. “Most of the time you don’t even know people have mental illness, unless their symptoms are active,” she said.

NAMI and the University Counseling Services offer support and treatment options that may help students feel free to talk about mental illness and seeking care.

“Using proper language, and being able to address it properly, as well as sharing your story, I think helps,” Wang said.

Moderator: Tephanie Martinez

Producer: Nathan Hoffman

Anchor: Max Goen

Social Media Editors: Star Harvey and Jennifer Montiel

Reporters: Breanna Burnette, Max Goen, Star Harvey, Shuandy Herrera, Nathan Hoffman, Tephanie Martinez and Jennifer Montiel

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“Yes and…” Accepting Comedy as a Career and Rolling With It

Moderator: Sophia Ashley

Anchor: Alexi Chidbachian

Producer: Danielle Pendleton

Social Media: Joshua Spidel

Reporters: Sophia Ashley, Alexi Chidbachian, Gabrielle Ortega, Danielle Pendleton, Scott Sanders and Joshua Spidel

 

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Marijuana U

Habitual marijuana use seems to be becoming the norm on many college campuses, as our society’s perceptions regarding the cannabis culture continue to change.

According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, marijuana use among college students is at its highest in more than three decades.

Marijuana’s rising acceptance in the media has had an impact on the way many college students view this drug.

“I think that the media has influences on all aspects of our lives,” said Shannon Franklin, a CSUN University Counseling Services therapist. “I think having that system that is surrounding us, telling us what is good and what is bad can definitely influence what a student thinks is appropriate for them.”

The last few years have seen a dramatic shift in the public’s attitude towards legalizing marijuana, and marijuana has become an alternative treatment for individuals with physical ailments such as cancer and other illnesses.

Marijuana’s popularity among college students is also due to its potential psychological benefits. When the pressure of college becomes too much to handle, some student may turn to marijuana as a way of dealing with feelings of anxiety or stress.

“I do see students who come in [for counseling], who are stressed, anxious, depressed,” Franklin said. “They might have tried marijuana to manage those symptoms, [but] the thing I’m really concerned about is why [they turned] to marijuana. Why was it interesting to them and how were they trying to reduce their symptoms? Were they trying to feel more calm? Were they trying to get away from their problems?”

Many college students may be unaware that smoking weed is potentially harmful for them. It can affect the brain’s development if it has not yet fully matured.

“Our pre-frontal cortex develops until we’re the age of 26,” Franklin said. “What that regulates, is your ability to make decisions and decide whether something is good for you.”

Marijuana can also have a negative impact on a college student’s academic performance, if it’s used inappropriately, such as in class or while studying.

“I think that being under the influence of anything will definitely alter your focus,” said Margaret Spryzynski, a Registered Nurse.

“If you smoke right before class, you’re not going to be able to concentrate as well,” Franklin said. “You might experience some symptoms of paranoia, [and when you’re] focused on what other people are thinking, [you are not] able to retain the memories that you need.”

A rise in daily marijuana use among college students could also be due to its accessibility, and that accessibility may be making it as popular as prescription drugs. But medical experts warn there are risks involved with replacing prescription medication with weed.

“From a medical perspective, I don’t think that marijuana is a good alternative for prescription medications because you have to look at why they need it,” Spryzynski said. “There are so many medications that we have, that marijuana should never be your first line of treatment.”

“Weed definitely has side effects such as withdrawals,” Franklin said. “You can be diagnosed with a cannabis addiction, and those are the things I keep my eyes open for.”

The American College Health Association conducts a survey every year to determine students’ habits and behaviors. The 2014 study reported that 37 percent of CSUN students said that they have tried marijuana at least once. It also found that only 15 percent of CSUN students said they smoked marijuana on a more regular basis or within the last 30 days.

“This is part of human nature and social norms,” Franklin said. “What we think everybody is doing isn’t necessarily what they’re actually doing.”

“Marijuana can be a quick fix for some people, but I want to work on skills you can take into your adulthood,” Franklin said. “[That way] you can figure out what to do when you’re stressed, and what to do when you’re anxious. Students can come over to the University Counseling Services, and meet with one of us, and have that conversation and that attention, and get the knowledge that they need.”

Moderator: Jon Gripe

Anchor: Daisy Lightfoot

Producer: Andrew Pitters

Reporters: Jon Gripe and Ashley Horton

Social Media Editor: Sarina Sandoval

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Overdosing America

More and more people are using prescription drugs for reasons not intended by their doctors.

Prescription pain medications kill more than 20,000 people in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s more than heroin and cocaine overdoses combined.

Dr. Stan Galperson, Director of Residential and Outpatient Programs at Tarzana Treatment Centers said that while these prescription drugs are addicting they do have legitimate uses.

“Where would we be without pain relief? I mean you go under the knife and surgery and you come out and you just take a couple of aspirin? I don’t think so,” Galperson said. “They all have legitimate purposes, but you know the potential of abuse is pretty high.”

Addicts are willing to go to extreme lengths to hide their addiction. However, there will usually be clues that may give the addicts away.

Ali, who wants to remain anonymous, has been clean and sober for 5 and 1/2 years. She said she believed she was doing a good job in keeping her secret hidden.

“I thought I was hiding it, but at the end it came out,” she said. “I lost a lot of weight, my hair was falling out, my skin was yellow. I didn’t think anything was wrong.”

While no one decides to get addicted to prescription medication, many wonder what these drugs have that make them so addictive for some people.

“They alter your brain chemistry,” Galperson said. “The drugs themselves is not what gets you high, it’s the manipulation that takes place. But what happens is after months and years of abuse, you alter your brain chemistry, and so now you are depleted, and using the drugs helps you feel normal again. It just becomes a vicious cycle. It’s really hard to break.”

According to the CDC, drug overdose has become the leading cause of injury death in the United States. Every day more than 100 people die as a result of drug overdose and close to 7,000 are treated in emergency departments.

“I got to a point where I no longer wanted to be alive,” Ali said. “I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror anymore, and the only thing I knew how to do, the only solution I had, was to take drugs or drink alcohol to not feel. I numbed myself out. I didn’t know how to deal with life on a daily basis.”

One part of California Proposition 46, on the ballot this November, requires health care practitioners to consult the state prescription drug history database before prescribing certain controlled substances.

“That part of the bill I like,” Galperson said.  “Addicts and alcoholics are very manipulative people, so it’s nothing to go from one doctor and get a prescription and go across the street to another doctor and get a prescription. If my doctor knows I’m already being prescribed over here, it will limit access. I think that’s smart and we have the technology, so we should go ahead and do it.”

 

Moderator: Stephanie Murguia

Producer: Candice Curtis

Anchor: Gabriela Rodriguez

Reporter: Danny Max

Social Media Editor: Ugochi Obinma

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The Battle After the War

Adjusting to life at home is a difficult step veterans face when they return from their service.

“The biggest challenge in making that transition would be the difference in the military culture versus the civilian culture when they come back,” Veterans Resource Center Coordinator Patrina Croisdale said.

CSUN student and Marine veteran Juan Flores said his toughest adjustment has been getting his family, friends, professors and colleagues to understand his challenges. Flores said he has had trouble relating even to his closest friends and immediate family members because they just don’t understand what he has gone through.

CSUN provides the veterans on campus with many resources to help them adjust to their new surroundings. The Veterans Resource Center (VRC) reaches out to veterans to  make it easier for them to meet other veterans on campus and adjust to the different lifestyle. The VRC also provides mentors for veterans and helps them further their educational and professional goals.

Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) differs from the VRC by offering accommodations such as support services, academic coaches, and work ability programs to any students with disabilities. DRES also helps with the psychological process involved with students accepting they have a disability.

“They’re wanting to discuss their diagnoses, and how it impacts them in their current academics,” DRES counselor Joaquin Marinez said.

DRES also offers services to veterans on campus with a disability or diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Flores was diagnosed with PTSD three years after returning from Iraq. He experienced difficulty sleeping, anger issues and mood swings. DRES tries to push veterans into getting involved with the Thriving and Achieving Program (TAP), which helps them work on developing a journey to success and deciding the factors in their plans after college. Flores said he uses the TAP program to help with his classes, to learn time management and to get strategies for dealing with PTSD.

Some veterans with PTSD report that they have attention concentration issues and when their symptoms are triggered, they have to leave the classroom. DRES helps with getting priority seating, along with note and test taking strategies. He said without the professionals he would not have known what was wrong with him.

“To me, that’s what helped me,” Flores said, “because I knew and felt like I had something wrong with me besides the sleep part and my mood swings, and I had a couple of people, like friends, tell me something is wrong with me, and from there that’s when I realized I need to go seek help.”

The staff at the VRC also helps vets apply for private scholarships and find employment.

The VRC holds a weekly Meet Relax Eat, and a monthly Neon Lights event to allow students to come hangout, enjoy good company, listen to music, and eat free food. The VRC will be celebrating November 11 with Veterans Awareness Week and full schedule of events to recognize and honor veterans.

“Students will be able to come and participate in an art project, which we will donate towards an organization that supports and works with veterans everyday, specifically those suffering from depression or PTSD,” Croisdale said. “This is called ’22 is Too Many’, referring to the 22 veterans who complete suicide each day.”

Marinez said there are vets on campus who do not want to be known or aren’t willing to seek help. Marinez, along with DRES, tries to reach out to vets in different areas and get them involved and show them as much support as they need.

Moderator: Robert Zamora

Producers: Andrea Bautista and Strongman Osom

Anchor: Courtney Wallace

Reporters: Roy Azoulay and Calsey Cole

Social Media Editor: Laura Camelo

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