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Ask the doc: “Are UTIs preventable?”

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woman with bladder pain

—Antonio S., Suffolk University, Massachusetts

Some urinary tract infections (UTIs) are preventable. And while they tend to be regarded as a women’s problem—or, more accurately, as a problem for anyone born with a vagina—in fact, anyone can get a UTI. The anatomy of the vagina does make it much more susceptible to infection than the penis, however.

What causes UTIs?

Most urinary tract infections are caused by E. coli, a bacterium found in the gut, but other bacteria can also cause these infections. The rectum is very near the vagina, where the urethra is located. If non-sterile bacteria from the rectum manage to ascend the urethra, they can infect the bladder, causing a UTI. Anyone born with a vagina has a short urethra, so it’s not that long of a trip for bacteria to get into the bladder.

How do I know if I have a UTI?

Symptoms can include:

  • Painful urination
  • Frequent urination and/or an urge to urinate even when your bladder is empty
  • Low-grade fever
  • Bloody or cloudy urine

A UTI is a “simple” bladder infection called cystitis. Sometimes, the bacteria can travel all the way up to the kidneys and infect them too, causing pyelonephritis. Both infections are fairly readily diagnosed and treated, but since a UTI can lead to a kidney infection, you’ll need to treat it right away. For that matter, a UTI may feel so uncomfortable that you’ll want to treat it right away.

How to prevent it?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have some general guidelines that can lower your risk of a UTI:

  • Empty your bladder before and after sexual activity
  • Stay hydrated and urinate regularly
  • Take a shower instead of a bath
  • Avoid douching or using any sprays/powders in the genital area

I’ve dealt with this complaint with many patients over the years and we almost always can make things better. If you frequently get UTI symptoms, you should definitely speak with a health care provider who is experienced at dealing with them. Not all of your episodes of discomfort may be due to UTIs, but it’s worth talking the situation through and considering all the possibilities.

Apps and podcasts we love: Another round

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Another round podcast

Liam K. is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Oregon Institute of Technology.

 

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 starsTracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu host the Another Round podcast every Tuesday, covering a variety of topics like current politics, social issues, career advice, relationships, board games, and much more. Each episode includes a guest who is knowledgeable on that week’s topic. The hosts make the podcast fun to listen to, but they also know when to get serious.

One of the more serious issues they focused on for today’s social issues is the “Me Too” movement. They also cover women’s experiences within the workforce and encourage the listener to stand up for themselves and to do what’s best for them.

On the more fun side, Another Round has lots of nuggets of advice scattered throughout their podcast. When I was listening to episode 19, for example, I learned that LinkedIn allows you to customize your profile page URL, which I didn’t know!

Tracy and Heben have a natural ability to allow the conversation to instinctively form. They connect with their guest and have the listener wondering where the conversation will go. I love that they don’t try to solve an issue—rather, they interview people to learn from their experience. The podcast doesn’t offer just one definitive solution; it offers a viewpoint, and I respect that.

I would recommend this podcast to someone who’s interested in today’s social issues—but who also needs something to listen to for a laugh when doing the dishes.

Episodes listened to:

Episode 19: Was that a microaggression or just Tuesday?
Episode 38: Let black girls be funny
Episode 109: Me too

6 reasons to go to the career center today

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resume, job application, and notebook on desk

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You understand the importance of locating your classes and the best coffee shop—but where’s your school’s career center? If you don’t know, go find it. There’s more happening there than the standard job search (though they’re great for that too), and students who stop by a few times a year gain a powerful advantage.

“The earlier students start to explore careers, the more time they have to test out their interests, build essential skills, and gain exposure and experience in possible fields,” says Jean Papalia, director of graduate student career services at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

Nearly 86 percent of students have used their career center for résumé help at least once, according to a 2017 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). More than half of students are making use of career counseling and internship assistance.

young businesswoman using laptop on stairs

Here’s how your career services can help:

1. Find four full years of opportunities

“I thought that my career services office would only help me find full-time jobs when my four years were up,” says Lexi K. at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, “but they helped me find summer jobs, apply for on-campus opportunities, [get] semester-long internships, etc.”

2. Check out your potential future(s)

The self-assessments offered at career centers are not designed to tell you what to do but instead to give you ideas that aren’t already on your radar. The questions touch on your values, motivation, skills, and interests. “The career center also hosts career fairs and employer meet-and-greets, so they’ve provided me with plenty of opportunities for exposure and learning what kinds of employers and fields would be interested in someone with my degree,” says Anthony S., a third-year undergraduate at University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

3. Pick your area of study and know what to do with it

Weighing your major, minor, and elective options? Considering their impact on your career opportunities can help set you up for getting employers’ attention. “The various personality and aptitude tests I took were helpful in narrowing my potential career path and interests,” says Noa S., a fourth-year undergraduate student at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.

4. Network with alumni

Your predecessors are often open to requests for informational interviews and might even connect you with a specific opportunity or strategic contact. “Networking is a key component of career exploration and job search success,” says Papalia. “Alumni are especially supportive and always willing to provide information and advice.”

5. Develop your best résumé and cover letter

Selling yourself on paper is not as easy as you think. Check out your school’s drop-in sessions or workshops for assistance with selecting content, formatting, organization, grammar, and layout flair. “My résumé would be terrible without my career center’s help. Not only with formatting but also content and how to alter the résumé for each job. They were also happy and supportive when I got a position,” says Emily O., a fourth-year undergraduate student at St. Louis University in Missouri.

6. Own that interview

Whether your mock interview occurs over the phone, via Skype™, or in person, you might be paired with a career counselor, another professional, or a fellow student who has interviewed already. “I didn’t know that such a thing existed or that it would be helpful to practice with a real recruiter and no penalties,” says Kayla G. at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Jake A., a fourth-year undergraduate student at University of the Pacific in California, added: “Mock interviews helped me get more comfortable with doing more interviews.”

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Article sources

Cynthia Dantes, director, career service, public health and professional degree programs, Tufts University School of Medicine, Massachusetts.

Jean Papalia, director of graduate student career services, Tufts University, Massachusetts.

College Parents of America. (n.d.). How the college career office can help your college student. Retrieved from http://www.collegeparents.org/members/resources/articles/how-college-career-office-can-help-your-college-student

Fouad, N. A., Guillen, A., Harris-Hodge, E., Henry, C., et al. (2006). Need, awareness, and use of career services for college students. Journal of Career Assessment, 14(4), 407–420.Retrieved from http://jca.sagepub.com/content/14/4/407.abstract

National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2012, December 5). Student survey: Class of 2012 used career center at same rate as class of 2011. Retrieved from http://www.naceweb.org/s12052012/student-career-center-use.aspx

Student Health 101 survey, February 2015.

Ask the trainer: “How can you change up your workouts to keep them interesting?”

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Happy guys doing yoga

Aliza B., SUNY Empire State College, New York

Let’s face it: Doing the same thing every day could get a little boring and result in us lacking the motivation to exercise. Changing up your workouts not only helps keep your mind engaged in exercise, but also it can boost your fitness level as you add new physical stresses to the body.

When we first start exercising, whether it’s lifting weights, using the elliptical machine, running, or yoga, we may notice a change in our bodies. Muscles may become more toned and flexible, and our weight may change. Over time, as our body adapts to the stresses we’re placing on it (exercise), it stops changing as much. This is a good time to start stressing it differently so that our bodies are challenged by different types of activity.

Here are four ways you can change up your workouts:

1. Increase the intensity.

Working harder over the same amount of time will increase your energy expenditure and boost your metabolism, giving you more bang for your buck. For example, if you normally use the elliptical machine for 30 minutes and cover three miles of distance in that time, try aiming for four miles in the same amount of time. The increased effort will get your heart pumping and the sweat dripping!

2. Increase the weight.

If you normally perform sets of 15 repetitions with a given weight, increase the amount of weight so you can only comfortably perform six to eight reps. This stresses the muscle tissue differently and helps you gain more strength.

3. Increase the repetitions.

If you normally lift heavier weights, decrease the weight and do more reps. Try 20–30 reps. You may feel your muscles burning as you get up into the higher reps. That’s OK—you’re building endurance in them.

4. Change the activity.

Do you lift weights all the time but don’t stretch much? Try yoga. Are you a full-time yogi but you never lift or do cardio? Try to add in a bit of both. And for the cardio lovers who never touch a weight, try lifting. Doing different activities helps keep our muscles balanced and our minds engaged. You might find doing something different is really challenging because your body isn’t used to it. Use that challenge as an opportunity to grow, both mentally and physically.

FitnessU: 6 arm exercises you can do without equipment

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Here’s why upper body workouts matter: Each day, we pick things up, put things down, carry items from one location to another, or move things around a room. Having a strong upper body makes these tasks easier.

Don’t worry—none of this will require hours in a gym with state-of-the-art equipment. Our trainer, Brianna, has put together a circuit of arm exercises below that are quick and effective and require zero equipment. This workout can be done anytime, anywhere, so it’s perfect for the busy student.

Warm up



Arm circuit



When completing each exercise, focus on the muscle group that’s supposed to be activated to create a mind-muscle connection.

Beginner: 15 seconds of each exercise with 15-second rest; complete 3 rounds

Intermediate: 30 seconds of each exercise with 15-second rest; complete 3 rounds

Advanced: 45–60 seconds of each exercise with 15-second rest; complete 3 rounds

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A meal-prep plan for a full week of breakfast, lunch, and dinner

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3 glass containers of prepped meals

Between classes, work, clubs, and sports, where is there time to eat? In a recent Student Health 101 survey, 45 percent of students said they don’t feel like they have enough time to cook each day, let alone eat. Sure, you can grab an overpriced noodle bowl at the dining hall or a few Oreos from the cabinet and call it dinner. Or you could meal prep and actually eat something of substance.

Besides being a more nutritionally sound option, setting aside one day to prep your meals has a slew of benefits:

  • Save time not having to cook every single day
  • Save money by avoiding takeout, eating out, and dining hall costs
  • Stress less over what to eat; everything’s planned for you
  • Eat healthier more consistently

To make your venture into meal prepping easy, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide. Set aside about two hours at the beginning of the week to get everything ready.

Meal plan for Monday through Friday: Breakfast option of egg cups or overnight oats, Lunch is burrito bowl, and Dinner option of veggie burgers or chili

Here’s exactly what to do during prep

fresh ingredients on cutting board

Part 1: Take care of the most time-consuming stuff

The key is to start with the thing that’s going to take the longest amount of time. In this case, the egg cups take 25 minutes, so heat the oven to 325 degrees for those first.

Start by dicing up your tomato and sautéing it in a pan until cooked, or use raw, if desired. Note: You can also add spinach, ham, mushrooms, and whatever veggies you’d like to the egg cups. Set the cooked ingredients aside while you whisk together your eggs and milk, and divide into muffin tins. Top with veggies/cooked ingredients and cheese, and pop them into the oven for about 25 minutes or until the top looks firm and they appear to be cooked through.

Now it’s time to prep your chili. Our recipe calls for a slow cooker, but if you don’t have that, brown your ground turkey or beef in a pot on the stove with your spices. Add the rest of your ingredients and let simmer.

At this point, you can also start making your rice/quinoa for the burrito bowls. You can use a quick microwaveable rice or one that requires a stove or rice cooker. Feel free to make extra for the chili!

Note: Your egg cups might be done at this point, so set those aside to cool. Turn off your oven—you’re done with that for now. 

Part 2: Prep it and forget it

As your chili and rice are cooking, place some greens in your burrito bowl containers. Rinse and dry your black beans and portion them out atop the greens.

Note: Check in on your rice/quinoa, it’s probably done.

Quinoa being rinsed

Add the rice/quinoa to your bowls, followed by the rest of your toppings. If using avocado, be sure to add that on the day you’re going to eat it to avoid browning. (Tip: Switch up your bowls by using different add-ins for each day of the week.) Burrito bowls are done!

Note: Check on your chili. If it’s done, turn off the stove and let it cool.

Time to throw together your overnight oats. Measure out your oats into jars or bowls, followed by your milk and add-ins. Into the fridge they go.

For your last meal: Prep your beans and greens burgers. Form these into patties, wrap them in plastic wrap, and keep them in the freezer. This makes it easy to pop on the stove for dinner on the nights you’re having them. The recipe makes four to six burgers. 

Part 3: Organize the fridge 

For easy grab-and-go meals, organize your fridge so that you have your breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day stacked and ready.

“Meal prepping is absolutely amazing. Meals can be made in advance, so if you’re a late sleeper, you can run out the door with a premade breakfast wrap. Also, if you often find that you’re tempted to eat out, meal prep can save you a ton of money—[it’s] probably much healthier too.”
—Ewan C., second-year undergraduate student, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, British Columbia, Canada

“It allows me to [have] one less thing on my plate. Since I know I already have food ready, I don’t have to stress about where my next meal is coming from.”
—Reese A., third-year undergraduate student, University of Kansas

“It helps me eat healthier and have time to eat at all. It also saves me a massive amount of money vs. eating out. Between homework, school, and my actual job, I tend to skip a lot of meals. With meal prepping, I can ensure I eat healthy meals.”
—Cordel G., second-year student, Wake Technical Community College, North Carolina

“Meal prep gives me peace of mind in high-stress situations. It saves time, helps me eat healthier, helps me manage my time better, and helps keep me focused.”
—Caroline H., first-year graduate student, Dominican University, Illinois

“Meal prepping helps me manage my hectic schedule. During my busiest weeks, I find that meal prepping ensures that I eat regularly, I eat healthy and I save money by avoiding fast alternatives like vending machines and fast food.”
—Ericka C., recent graduate, University of Wyoming

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Other recipes that lend themselves well to meal prep:

Breakfast
Pancakes
French toast (Make, freeze, and pop into the toaster when you’re ready to eat)

Lunch

Soup
Salad

Dinner
Orange chicken
Pasta


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Article sources

Harvard School of Public Health. (2018). Meal prep: A helpful healthy eating strategy. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2017/03/20/meal-prep-planning/

Student Health 101 survey, October 2018.

Students share how they deal with depression

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male in dark covering face

Nadia*, a fourth-year undergraduate in Illinois, was feeling down. But unlike a bad mood or period of sadness, it didn’t pass—it stuck around for months. “It was really hard to study, go about my day, and feel present when I hung out with my friends or family,” she says. “I also lost motivation and my goals I had for my future. I just stopped caring about everything.” Nadia went to see a therapist. “After a few sessions, she told me what I was experiencing was depression and anxiety,” she says.

Depression, like the kind Nadia experienced, isn’t as simple as just feeling sad. “We all experience sadness—when we lose someone, are disappointed, or just don’t have things turn out the way we want and expect,” says Dr. Alan J. Gelenberg, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of Arizona. But for some, the downs keep coming.

When sadness isn’t tied to a specific disappointment or tragedy, and you’re stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts (e.g., feeling like nobody likes you or like nothing will ever work out for you), depression might be the culprit.

If this sounds like where you’re at, you’re not alone: According to a 2016 nationwide survey, 16.2 million adults in the US suffered at least one major depressive episode in the year before the survey.

“A stressor can trigger negative thoughts or distress, but depression is a sustained feeling of sadness along with a decreased interest in most activities, every day, regardless of the situation,” says Dr. Helen S. Mayberg, professor of psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

Here are some of the symptoms that people with depression may experience. Keep in mind that with depression, these will generally be present for two weeks or longer.

  • Feelings of hopelessness and discouragement.
  • Feeling “empty.”
  • Feeling worthless or helpless.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and activities that you used to enjoy.
  • Aches and pains (depression can actually cause physical issues like headaches, digestive problems, loss of appetite, weight loss or gain, and muscle pain).
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night.
  • Low energy and trouble concentrating.
  • Self-harm (e.g., cutting, burning, pulling hair out) or thoughts of suicide. If you’re experiencing this, reach out to your school’s counseling center or peer resources (like an RA). If you can’t bring yourself to tell someone in person, text “CONNECT” to 741741 for help.

There’s no shame in depression. Celebrities like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Kristin Bell, Kid Cudi, and Michael Phelps have all opened up about their experiences with it in an effort to shed light on a topic many of us are afraid to talk about. Viral social media movements like #WhatYouDontSee have helped bring depression out of the dark even further, encouraging honesty and openness about experiences with depression.

“Depression is a brain disorder, not a weakness of character,” says Dr. Mayberg. “No one should be shy or embarrassed to ask for help.”

If you are ever thinking about suicide, call the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately for help: 1-800-273-8255.



The science of depression

Researchers don’t fully understand why some people experience depression and some don’t. Here’s what they do know: It’s a physical disorder—not just something happening in your mind. A cause-and-effect relationship isn’t perfectly clear, according to the Mayo Clinic, but people with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains, including changes in neurotransmitters and hormones.

Psychiatrists will generally diagnose people experiencing depression symptoms into two categories: major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder, though that doesn’t necessarily mean all of a person’s symptoms fit into one or the other.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is severe and disabling. MDD involves some combination of depression symptoms (everyone is different), but most people with MDD will lose interest in the activities they once enjoyed. This type of depression usually comes as an intense episode and lasts a few weeks or months at most. Once it’s over, you’ll generally feel like yourself again.

Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymic disorder) is similar to MDD, but symptoms are less severe (so you may be able to function at school or in social situations). It lasts longer, though, and can affect people for years.

Depression can happen at any time, but college students are particularly likely to experience it, thanks to an onslaught of new stressors, including academic stress and personal changes, says Dr. Lauren Weitzman, director of the University of Utah Counseling Center.

Women are more likely than men to experience depression. There are a few theories as to why; studies show women experience more intense hormonal fluctuations, higher genetic likelihood, and higher stress levels than men do. Read more about the gender gap in depression here.

Underlying medical conditions (e.g., hyperthyroidism, mononucleosis) can cause exhaustion and symptoms that feel like depression. If you’re having symptoms, be sure to get a full medical evaluation to check for these conditions and to rule out any other illnesses.

Those with other disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, or eating disorders, are more likely to develop depression, as are those with chronic medical conditions (asthma, cancer, diabetes, etc.).

two women casually talking

How to help yourself

“If you feel like your typical functioning is being impacted by what might be depression or any other mental health concerns”—e.g., you’re having a hard time concentrating in class or feeling apathetic about things you used to enjoy—”it’s always a good idea to get that checked out,” Dr. Weitzman says.

A lot of colleges have online mental health screenings where you can assess yourself and make an appointment with a university counselor, says Dr. Weitzman. That can be a good place to start.

It’s also important to reach out—whether it’s to a counselor or friends and family—to talk about your symptoms. “One of the things that can happen with depression a lot is a sense of social isolation,” Dr. Weitzman says. “It doesn’t have to be a counselor necessarily, but just sharing, ‘This is how I’m feeling. I’m not sure what’s going on,’ can be helpful.”

What treatment looks like

Treatment for depression usually involves talking to a trained therapist and/or taking medications (e.g., antidepressants). While the approach might vary depending on the type of therapist, “typically there’s an assessment of symptoms,” says Dr. Weitzman, where the therapist will ask you questions to get a pulse on exactly how you’re feeling. “Counselors are going to be listening for whether they think a medication evaluation might be warranted,” Dr. Weitzman explains.

Treatment for depression often involves cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps you deal with depression by examining your thought patterns and helping you come up with a new way of thinking, Dr. Weitzman says. In treatment for depression, your therapist may:

  • Help you recognize negative thinking patterns and how to change them.
  • Lead you to understand your emotions and what’s triggering them.
  • Help you come up with solutions for problems that are weighing you down.
  • Suggest changes to your lifestyle that could improve your mood (physical activity has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of depression).
  • Help you feel more confident and hopeful by reassuring you that you can get better.
  • Encourage you to keep a journal so you can keep track of your feelings and reactions.

Reaching out helped Madeleine Z., a third-year undergraduate at the College of New Jersey, tremendously. “I realized that I needed help when it became a visible strain on relationships I had made. I went to my school’s counseling and psychological services. It changed my life,” she says. “Putting a name on it and giving validation to my experiences shifted my perspectives. It transformed from an anonymous enemy into an identifiable struggle.”



What to do if you think a friend may be depressed

If you think a friend might be struggling with depression, it’s OK to share your concern. “Usually I recommend saying something that acknowledges what you’ve been observing,” says Dr. Weitzman, such as, “Hey, you haven’t really seemed like yourself the last few weeks and haven’t been up for hanging out. I’m a little concerned—is everything OK?”

“What we call ‘normalizing’ depression is really important,” Dr. Weitzman says.

In addition to making your friend feel heard, the best thing you can do is be present and nonjudgmental, says Dr. Gelenberg. Even when it’s hard to know what to say, you can help by:

  1. Being present and spending time with them, whether that’s a quiet night in or a fun activity that could take their mind off the depression (if they’re up for it).
  2. Accepting them and their depression. Recognize that they can’t just “cheer up” or “get over it.”
  3. Encouraging physical activity, which has been shown in studies to help alleviate symptoms of depression. Take a run together after classes, join a yoga or dance class, or organize a basketball game.

It’s important to be careful in how you talk to your friend about depression. Try to avoid the types of statements below, even if they’re well-intentioned.

1. “You’re being really irrational/acting crazy.”

“We have such stigma around mental health and the word ‘crazy,’” Dr. Weitzman says. “Depression is an illness—it’s not being irrational or acting crazy.”

2. “Everyone gets depressed sometimes.”

While a lot of people do experience depression, brushing it off like this minimizes your friend’s experience.

3. “Just cheer up. Snap out of it. Forget about it.”

This suggests that you can make depression go away just by having a positive attitude, Dr. Weitzman says, but it’s not that easy. It’s like telling someone to just snap out of having the flu.

4. “You’ve got it way better than some people.”

Again, statements like this minimize what your friend is going through. For people dealing with depression, it’s a big deal.

5. “When are you going to act like your old self again?”

It’s OK to acknowledge that it’s hard to interact with someone who is depressed, Dr. Weitzman says, “but try to do that in a non-blaming, non-shaming, supportive way.” Instead, try something like, “Wow, I miss the person that you were a few weeks ago, but I want to make sure that you get help.”

Most importantly, you need to recognize when your help isn’t enough—especially if you’re worried a friend or classmate might harm themselves or others. “Let them know you really want to help them find some help,” says Dr. Weitzman. You might even offer to walk with them to the counseling center.

If someone seems at risk of harming themselves or others and seems resistant to help, don’t drop it. Talk to a professor you trust, get on the phone with a school counselor, or reach out to your RA, who is trained in handling these situations. Some schools even have anonymous tip lines where you can alert counseling staff ASAP of students who may be a danger to themselves or others. Check with your university counseling center for your school’s specific protocol.

*Name changed

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Article sources

Lauren Weitzman, PhD, director of the University of Utah Counseling Center.

Alan J. Gelenberg, MD, professor emeritus, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Helen S. Mayberg, MD, professor, Department of Psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ahrnsbrak, R., Bose, J., Hedden, S. L., Lippari, R. N., et al. (September 2017). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 national survey on drug use and health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2016/NSDUH-FFR1-2016.htm#mde1

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Anxiety and depression in children. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/anxiety-and-depression

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Girls and teens. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/find-help-for/women/mental-health-in-young-girls-and-teens

Craft, L., & Perna, F. (2004). The benefits of exercise for the clinically depressed. Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 6(3), 104–111. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC474733/

Harvard Health Publications. (2011, May). Women and depression. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/women-and-depression

Mayo Clinic. (2016). Depression (major depressive disorder). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/symptoms/con-20032977

Moghaddam, B., & Sturman, D. (2012). Processes reward differently in adolescents versus adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(5), 1719–1724. Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/109/5/1719.abstract

National Institute of Mental Health. (2014). Major depression among adolescents. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/major-depression-among-adolescents.shtml

Student Health 101 survey, September 2016.

University of Michigan Depression Center. (2016). Depression in children and adolescents. Retrieved from http://www.depressiontoolkit.org/lifespan/children.asp

Ask the health educator: “How do you reject someone who has feelings for you?”

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wilted purple tulips in vase

—Jaime S.*, University of Waterloo, Ontario

Having someone—especially if it’s a friend—have romantic feelings for you when you don’t feel the same way about them can be extremely tough! On the one hand, you don’t want to hurt their feelings and ruin what you do have, but on the other, you don’t want to lead them on, which can definitely ruin a friendship. So what do you do?

Tell the truth

We know it’s not easy, but the best way to go about rejection is to avoid leading the person on; being direct about your feelings can help make sure that the person isn’t reading anything into your actions or words.

Here’s how

Be as direct and transparent as possible.

Tell them straightforwardly that you’re not interested in them romantically or physically. You can say, “You’re a great friend, but I’m not interested in you as a romantic or sexual partner.”

If this is an acquaintance or someone you don’t know too well, rather than a close friend, you can try something like, “I’m flattered that you like me, but I’m not interested in you in that way.”

Set (and keep) the boundary.

After you tell them how you feel, kissing or other sexual expressions could lead the person to think that you like them or that they have a chance. Avoid it if you can. Mixed signals are confusing for all of us and could lead to more hurt feelings, difficult conversations, and potentially an irreparable friendship.

Chances are, after letting the person know that you’re not interested, they’ll leave you alone or you’ll go back to being just friends. But if the person continues to pursue you, isn’t listening to you or respecting your wishes, or is making you uncomfortable, reach out to your Title IX office or another student support service for help. In rare cases, the situation could escalate to stalking or unwanted or obsessive attention from this person. Your safety is your top priority.

*Name changed 

3 ways to avoid the temptation to cheat on your next exam

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Cheating happens—and despite the consequences, some of the reasons students do it are easy to understand. “I wanted to get a high mark in the class so I could get into the best colleges [near where] I lived,” says Erica*, now a senior at the University of Kansas.

Looking over someone’s shoulder can seem like it’s NBD—it’s just a little innocent glance, right? Not in the eyes of the people who determine your grades—and whether you graduate. If you get caught cheating, the consequences can be huge—think failing the entire class or getting kicked out of school completely. If you’re unsure of your school’s policy on cheating, your student handbook is a good place to look.

Despite the massive consequences cheating can have, it happens a lot—46 percent of students surveyed in a recent Student Health 101 poll copped to cheating at some point in their academic career.

Students passing notes

The problem is, cheating doesn’t always feel as black-and-white as Googling answers under your desk or paying someone to write a paper for you. “I believe, for the most part, students don’t come to [school] intending to cheat,” says James Black, director of the Center for Academic Achievement at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. “More often than not, they get overwhelmed and panic.”

Why students cheat—and how to avoid it

Considering the huge consequences of getting caught cheating, why do so many students still do it? “Cheating on exams is rarely premeditated,” says David Rettinger, executive director of the Center for Honor, Leadership, and Service at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. “It’s much more commonly a crime of opportunity”—that is, students find themselves in a situation where the answers are available, and they take advantage of it.

Another major reason students cheat? “Lack of time management,” says Jessica Waters, dean of undergraduate education at American University in Washington, DC.

It’s not hard to see how this happens. Balancing classes, college applications, and an after-school job or internship would make anyone feel stressed and even desperate. Like Rettinger, Waters finds that most students who cheat don’t usually set out with the intent to be dishonest—instead, they find themselves in a situation where cheating seems like the only/best option. “Often, students who cheat haven’t set aside enough time to complete a paper, start researching online at 2 a.m., and find themselves copying and pasting material to cobble [it] together,” she says. “This is a recipe for disaster.”

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How to avoid the temptation to cheat

One of the best ways to keep yourself out of a situation where you’re tempted to cheat is by practicing better time management. Here’s how:

1. Check your syllabi at the beginning of the semester and flag any due dates that fall close together.

If you notice you’ll have four exams on the same day, block out specific days to study for each of the tests in the weeks leading up to them. This way, it’s already in your calendar and you can tackle studying one subject at a time.

2. Give yourself plenty of time to research.

When it comes to papers (even the short ones), “set aside enough time to thoroughly research, write it carefully, and then have time to check that you’ve properly attributed and cited any outside resources or work that’s not your own,” says Waters. “When in doubt, cite!”

3. Ask for help.

If you do find yourself in trouble, whether it’s a time crunch or struggling with the material, ask for help—the earlier, the better. If you’re utterly overwhelmed, let your teachers know as soon as possible. They may be more sympathetic earlier in the process rather than to an eleventh-hour plea.

Students taking a test

Citing sources to avoid plagiarism

It’s also important to ensure you know when and how to cite sources properly, since not doing so could be considered plagiarism. If you’re unclear on proper citation conventions—how to document sources and ideas in your work—visit your school’s writing lab, speak with a peer tutor, or consult your teachers. The Purdue Owl is also an excellent resource.

What to do if you get caught

“If you’re accused of plagiarism or other academic dishonesty, make sure you understand your school’s policy and the potential sanctions,” says Waters. “While such a charge can have severe consequences—including dismissal—it’s important to view this as an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson”—for example, how not to get in trouble again. If you’re allowed to remain enrolled in the class, make sure you’re 100 percent clear on what behaviors are considered cheating and what put you in the position to cheat in the first place.

Ultimately, the consequences just aren’t worth it—no matter how easy or justifiable cheating seems. “Honestly, I wasn’t happy [that] that’s how I got my grade, and so I stopped,” says Janelle*, a junior in Dayton, Ohio, who cheated during her freshman year. “I was really proud of myself after taking a test I didn’t cheat on because I knew that it was my hard work that got me the good grade.”

Find Out More or Get Help

These resources can help you learn more about academic integrity and proper citation techniques.

Academic integrity in high school: KidsHealth

Online Writing Lab (OWL): Purdue University

International Center for Academic Integrity: Clemson University

For more information about these topics, as well as your school’s honor code, consult your teacher, or writing lab or peer tutoring program, if you have one.

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Article sources

David Rettinger, executive director, the Center for Honor, Leadership, and Service, and associate professor of psychology, University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

James Black, director, the Center of Academic Achievement, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.

Jessica Waters, dean of undergraduate students, American University, Washington DC.

Best College Reviews. (2012). Cheating in college: The numbers and research. Retrieved from https://www.bestcollegereviews.org/cheating/

Dillion. W. (26 June, 2006). Study examines why students cheat. Ames Tribune, as printed in USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2006-06-26-cheating-study_x.htm

Grasgreen, Ali. (16 March, 2012). Who cheats, and how. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/03/16/arizona-survey-examines-student-cheating-faculty-responses

Iowa State University News Service. (15 June, 2006). Why do some students cheat? They rationalize it, ISU research finds. Retrieved from http://www.public.iastate.edu/~nscentral/news/06/jun/rationalizing.shtml

Talk of the Nation. (19 July, 2010). Cheating in college is widespread—but why? National Public Radio. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128624207

Young, J. R. (18 March, 2010). Cheaters never win, at least in physics, a professor finds. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/cheaters-never-win-at-least-in-physics-a-professor-finds/21895

5 ways to help yourself and others navigate the drinking scene

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There are plenty of reasons for not wanting to drink: You’ve got homework to do, you’re worried about getting in trouble, or maybe you just don’t feel like it. So when someone hands you a beer, why can it sometimes feel super awkward to say, “No thanks”?

Over half of high school students said choosing a nonalcoholic drink at a social gathering might mean being judged, according to a recent Student Health 101 survey. The question is: Are people really judging you, or are you just worried they might?

Believe it or not, most people don’t drink in high school. Sometimes it seems more common than it is because people talk it up or because we see it in the media, but research tells us that the number of teens who actually drink are a lot fewer than you think. Only a third of high school students said they drank alcohol in the past month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior survey.

Social pressures are often unspoken

In our survey, 53 percent of high schoolers said they’re confident turning down a drink they don’t want—and that’s great. But peer pressure more often occurs indirectly. Simply being in the presence of someone else drinking, for example, can make you more likely to join in. A body of research backs this up—if the people you want to be accepted by are drinking, it makes it easier to perceive drinking as a positive and socially acceptable experience. Additionally, teens may find it more difficult to control impulsive or risky behaviors when their friends are around, according to a review of studies published in Developmental Review.

Part of the pressure to follow the crowd is due to your basic biology. “At puberty, our brains develop in specific ways that make us care about our social standing more than ever before,” says Dr. Mitch Prinstein, distinguished professor and director of clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We always feel the pressure to fit in, but before the age of 25, we have a hard time overcoming that pressure because the region of our brains that promotes inhibition is not fully developed,” he says. In other words, in high school, we have a supercharged drive to want to fit in—but our mental brakes haven’t fully developed.

So if you don’t want to drink, how do you resist without busting your social scene?

It’s all about confidence

“Being able to resist the pressure depends on the student’s power and ability to feel content with themselves,” says Patricia Saltzman, licensed social worker and substance abuse counselor in Connecticut, who works with teens. “Low self-esteem makes it a lot harder for [students] to stand up for themselves.”

The best way to feel good? Respecting your own boundaries. Being up front and honest is sometimes more respected than accepting a drink you don’t want. “Stand firm in your own values,” Dr. Prinstein says. “When we have high self-esteem, we have sources of self-assurance that come from places other than peer feedback,” such as your group of friends or your family. “It’s good for students and adults to know that it’s totally natural to want to feel liked and included,” he says. But that doesn’t mean someone’s opinion of you defines your sense of acceptance or self-worth.

It’s not easy to flick a switch and suddenly emit confidence. Insecurity can impair your choices, making it a lot harder to stand up for yourself. It’s perfectly fine to want to be liked, but the people who truly care about you will want what’s best for you. If you find yourself in a situation where friends ask you to do things you’re uncomfortable with, take a couple steps back and reevaluate your friendship. Do these people truly care about your well-being? Listen to your instincts, and think about spending more time with friends who will respect your boundaries and desires.

Here are 5 ways to tell someone you don’t want a drink without being awkward

friends laughing

1.

“Say you’re the designated driver for the night if you’re worried about being hassled.”

—Sydney, senior, Indianapolis, Indiana

How to say it

“Thanks, but I’m driving.”

How to hear it

“No worries, I hear you. Something else?”

2.

“Tell them you’ve had enough.”

—Kenlee, sophomore, Phillipsburg, Kansas

How to say it

“Thanks, but I’ve already got one.”

(Note: You can also respond by getting a drink yourself and making it without any alcohol.)

How to hear it

“Enjoy!”

3.

“[Say] you have an early morning.”

—Rebecca, Providence, Rhode Island

How to say it

“I’d love to, but I’m running a 5K in the AM and I’m trying to set a new personal record.”

How to hear it

“Oh, that’s awesome! I respect your willpower. How often do you train?”

4.

“Say you’d love a drink but would prefer starting off with something nonalcoholic.”

—Lindsay, Ontario, Canada

How to say it

“I really haven’t hydrated enough today. Would you have something without alcohol in it to start me off?”

How to hear it

“Absolutely! Water?”

5.

“Just give a firm, confident ‘no.’ You don’t need to give an excuse. It’s your body and you choose what to put into it.”

Karoline, junior, Wiggins, Mississippi

How to say it

“No thank you.”

How to hear it

“OK, cool.” 

“Your confident attitude will be contagious. Others who may not have the strength to say no may find it just [by] watching you. Be a leader!”
—Jeani, Redding, California

Keep it comical

“I found that incorporating a joke into the rejection lightens up the mood and saves you from feeling embarrassed.”
—Shania, senior, Milton, Massachusetts

Fake it

“Take the drink, but don’t drink it. Put it down on the table or floor, or ‘accidentally’ spill it or pour it out.”
—Niamh, senior, Boston, Massachusetts

“I would make my own drink and just not add any alcohol so that people don’t try and offer me another.”
—Alayna, Beaverton, Oregon

Don’t sugarcoat it

“Be clear about your choice not to drink. Be polite but firm.”
—Mehakpreet, Surrey, Canada 

Kill ’em with kindness

“As long as you have a good attitude about saying no and don’t seem disgusted, most people are OK with others not accepting a drink if you politely decline or make some good of the situation.”
—Emily, Ontario, Canada

Know your true friends

“The people who really matter won’t mind, and those who make a big deal about it aren’t people who have your best interest in mind.”
—Brianna, Ontario, Canada

How to respect other people’s decisions about drinking

If you’re the one handing red solo cups to everyone, take a moment to check in with yourself.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Show support by letting up on your own drinking.
  • Let your friends know that not drinking won’t affect your relationship.
  • Apologize if you made your friend feel uncomfortable.
  • Suggest a different activity that doesn’t involve alcohol.
Get help or find out more

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Article sources

Jann Gumbiner, PhD, licensed psychologist and clinical professor at the University of California, Irvine College of Medicine, Irvine, California.

Mitch Prinstein, PhD, ABPP, John Van Seters distinguished professor and director of clinical psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Patricia Saltzman, licensed clinical social worker and substance abuse counselor, Child Guidance Community Clinic, Manchester, Connecticut.

Geiger, B. B., & MacKerron, G. (2016). Can alcohol make you happy? A subjective wellbeing approach. Social Science & Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953616301344

Kinard, B., & Webster, C. (2010). The effects of advertising, social influences, and self-efficacy on adolescence tobacco use and alcohol consumption. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 44(1), 24–43. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6606.2010.01156.x

Kuntsche, E., Knibbe, R., Gmel, G., & Engels, R. (2005). Why do young people drink? A review of drinking motives. Clinical Psychological Review, 25(7), 841–861.

Mascarelli, A. L. (2012, October 17). The teenage brain. Society for Science & the Public. Retrieved from https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/teenage-brain

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2009). Make a difference: Talk to your child about alcohol. Retrieved from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/MakeADiff_HTML/makediff.htm

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2016, January). Underage drinking. Retrieved from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/UnderageDrinking/UnderageFact.htm

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2012, March 2). Peers increase teen driving risk via heightened reward activity. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2012/03/peers-increase-teen-driving-risk-heightened-reward-activity

Palmeri, J. M. (2011). Peer pressure and alcohol use amongst college students. Retrieved from https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/appsych/opus/issues/2011/fall/peer

Regan, D., & Morrison, T. G. (2011). Development and validation of a scale measuring attitudes toward non-drinkers. Substance Use and Misuse, 46, 580–590. doi:10.3109/10826084.2010.518748

Sandahl, E. (2016, April 1). Do you drink? Exploring the reasons behind your choices. Student Health 101, 2(15). Retrieved from https://sh101academy.getsh101.com/do-you-drink/

Steinberg, L. (2008). A social neuroscience perspective on adolescent risk-taking. Developmental Review, 28(1), 78–106. 

Student Health 101 survey, July 2016.

Teese, R., & Bradley, G. (2008). Predicting recklessness in emerging adults: A test of a psychosocial model. Journal of Social Psychology, 148(1), 105–126.

Terry-McElrath, Y. M., O’Malley, P. M., & Johnston, L. D. (2009). Reasons for drug use among American youth by consumption level, gender, and race/ethnicity: 1976–2005. Journal of Drug Issues, 39(3), 677–714. Retrieved from https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/family-home-consumer/adolescent-alcohol-and-other-drug-abuse-10-216/