The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

It’s that time of year again—the leaves are changing, it’s getting cold (kind of) and the holidays are slowly creeping closer.

But along with this lovely fall season come lots of things that can stress us out: battling our way through ConnectCarolina for class registration, trying to play catch-up on homework in a post-Halloween haze, and if you’re a senior like me, trying to figure out what you’re going to do with your life after graduation.

A little bit of stress can be good since it gives us the motivation to get assignments done and embark on job hunts, but excessive stress, especially among young adults, can be detrimental to our health — both physically and mentally.

So how do you know if you are experiencing excessive stress? Some symptoms include headaches, backaches, stomach pains and trouble sleeping. These are symptoms that are sometimes hard to catch. For instance, how do you know if the headache and stomach ache are warning signs of excessive stress or just part of a particularly long-winded hangover?

Even though these symptoms can be hard to notice, it is important to keep track of patterns of recurring symptoms, because they can lead to some serious health problems, including a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, depression, erectile dysfunction and painful menstrual cramps.

Although any one of these problems can deflate a perfectly good semester, one in particular is of special concern to young adults.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 10 American adults suffer from depression and 19-to-24 year olds were more likely to report cases of minor depression than any other age group. Women, blacks and Hispanics were most likely to meet criteria for major depression.

However, the statistic showing that women are more likely than men to suffer from depression may be misleading. According to psychologist Patricia Farrell, women are more likely than men to seek professional help for a mental illness, which may explain why women have higher rates of reported depression — men have depression, they just aren’t going to a doctor for it so they aren’t showing up in the statistics.

According to Farrell, men are more likely to drink excessively when they are stressed, instead of seeking out help from a therapist.

Signs of depression to look out for are energy or appetite loss, difficulty concentrating, indecision and insomnia or excessive sleep.

The best thing to do is to catch depression before it gets serious. If the stress of the season starts to get to you and you start noticing some signs of depression, there are lots of ways to prevent it from getting worse.

Exercising, eating healthy, getting more sleep and seeking therapy have been shown to be effective in cases of minor depression and can be helpful in some cases of major depression. In some cases, antidepressant medication can be helpful, since depression is essentially an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.

Of course, prevention is the ideal treatment. So as we near the end of the semester and you are studying for exams and writing final papers, be on the lookout for signs of excessive stress and depression and take care of yourself and those close to you.

Sarah Dugan is a Columnist for the Daily Tar Heel. She is a Senior environmental health science major from Asheville, NC. E-mail Sarah at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.