Depression and anxiety discussion held during Mental Health Week

Sidhra Vakil gave a presentation about depression and anxiety on Tuesday. (DJ McAllister/lariat)

Sidhra Vakil gave a presentation about depression and anxiety on Tuesday. (DJ McAllister/Lariat)

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Saddleback College hosted a presentation about depression and anxiety in the Associated Student Government room Tuesday, Oct. 3.

The presentation was delivered by Sidhra Vakil, Psy.D., a psychology intern from the Saddleback College Student Health Center.

Vakil explained what depression looks like and highlighted some of its possible symptoms, such as sadness, a feeling of emptiness or hopelessness, lack of energy, poor concentration and even changes in sleep or appetite. Depression, Vakil went on, can interfere with a person’s daily life, relationships, work and school.

Approximately 121 million people worldwide currently live with some form of depression. Last year in the United States, around 16.1 million adults had at least one major depressive episode according to Vakil. 

“Interesting enough, about 1/3 of college students face depression whether they’re diagnosed or not. So if you’ve ever felt depressed as a result of something from school, you’re definitely not alone,” Vakil said.

Women are twice as likely as men to experience some form of depression. Vakil says that nearly half of the people diagnosed with anxiety are also diagnosed with depression.

“Anxiety is the most common mental health concern in the U.S. 19 million adults are diagnosed, but approximately of the diagnosed receive any kind of formal treatment,” Vakil said.

Anxiety is often linked to the fight, flight or freeze response. This is how someone reacts when facing a situation that requires immediate action.

Aside from depression and anxiety, Vakil also touched on stress and the effects it has on people, underscoring the difference between it and anxiety.

“Although they go hand-in-hand in most situations, or people liken them to each other, they stem from different experiences, thought and brain processes and have different effects on us generally,” Vakil said. “Stress is usually more of a situational case and is a short-term response compared to anxiety, which can be caused by common situations, people, places, etc. In a lot of cases, anxiety can occur any time a person is put in a particular situation, no matter how often or how severe.”

Sidhra Vakil gave a presentation about depression and anxiety on Tuesday. (DJ McAllister/lariat)

Sidhra Vakil gave a presentation about depression and anxiety on Tuesday. (DJ McAllister/lariat)

As a part of the presentation, Vakil talked about various mechanisms that can be used to cope with any of these mental illnesses. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation aid in calming breathing, thinking, and movement when facing anxiety or stress. Meditation is a common way to help ease the mind and body.

Although she offered several coping mechanisms, , Vakil highlighted one mode of treatment in particular, self-help.

“Making personal changes in your lives can drastically help you battle any of these mental illnesses, probably more so than anything I’ve talked about. Changes to exercise or sleep routines and your diet can not only boost your mental health but your physical health as well,” Vakil said. “Journaling and therapy are also great ways to help yourself clear your mind and express what you’re going through. Music can also serve as a great release and mood-influencer, which can help both in the moment and over time.”

Mental health awareness week is a great opportunity to learn about different aspects of the human brain and emotion. This discussion equipped listeners with knowledge and perspective of several aspects of mental health.

If you ever feel any symptoms of depression, stress, anxiety, or anything of the sort, the Saddleback College Student Health Center is open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.. Medical and psychological services are available to anybody by appointment or walk-in. The office can be reached at 949-582-4606.