Mental Health Topics

Counseling Services has information on a wide variety of mental health topics. You are welcome to contact us if you have questions concerning these and other mental health topics.


GHB: The New Date Rape Drug?

What is GHB?
GHB (gamma hydroxy butyrate) is also known as "G", "Grievous Bodily Harm", "Liquid E", "Fantasy", and "Liquid Ecstasy". GHB can be found in two forms. It comes either in a clear liquid or as a ground white powder. GHB is difficult to detect when added to beverages because it is colorless.

How can GHB Affect Me?
Taking GHB can cause amnesia, vomiting, loss of muscle control, respiratory problems, loss of consciousness, sedation, passing out, and death. Because of its sedation effects, GHB is often used as a date rape drug. It is especially dangerous and deadly when combined with alcohol.

How can I identify GHB?
GHB is colorless, odorless, and very difficult to detect in a drink. Detection becomes even more difficult if GHB is combined with alcohol, as its effects are similar to those of alcohol inebriation. In many cases where GHB and alcohol are combined, the only method of detection is a urine test.

How can I protect myself?

  • Never take a drink from someone you don't know or trust.
  • Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Never allow anyone to coerce you into drinking something you don't want.
  • Never mix GHB with alcohol.
  • Never think that it won't happen to you!

For more information on GHB contact counseling services!

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Happiness Research: What makes people happy?
Dr. David Myers, a leading researcher in happiness, has illustrated that factors such as age, sex, race, or income make little difference in an individual's level of happiness. Myers states that the following factors can help promote a healthy, happy lifestyle.
  1. Realize enduring happiness doesn't come from "making it."
    Wealth is like health: its absence breeds misery, but having it doesn't guarantee happiness.
  2. Savor the moment
    Pause to take delight in the day's magic moments.
  3. Take control of your time. Use time setting goals.
    Be realistic about how much you can accomplish and follow through.
  4. Act happy.
    Talk as if you have positive self-esteem, are optimistic, and outgoing. Going through the motions can help trigger the emotions.
  5. Seek work and leisure that engages your skills.
    Happy people are often in a zone called "flow"-absorbed in a task that challenges them without overwhelming them.
  6. Join the "movement movement."
    Studies suggest that exercise not only promotes physical health, but can also help prevent mild depression. Sound minds reside in sound bodies.
  7. Get rest.
    Happy people live active, vigorous lives, yet reserve time for rest and solitude.
  8. 8. Give priority to close relationships.
    Confiding in someone is healthy for both mind and body.
  9. Take care of the soul.
    In study after study, actively religious people are happier.

(Information taken from Dr. David Myers, Exploring Psychology 3rd. Ed. Worth Publishers, Inc. 1996.)

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Stress and Time Management
Stress is a normal part of life, especially at college. High levels of stress can cause problems which can disturb an individual's daily life. Some of the following behaviors may indicate that your stress level is too high.

Signs of High Level Stress

  •     Impatience
  •     Overeating/Under eating
  •     Irritability
  •     Problems sleeping
  •     Upset stomach
  •     Feelings of inadequacy
  •     An unending anxiety

What Can You Do To Combat Negative Stress?

  •     Take control of your time
  •     Create a schedule
  •     Do projects ahead of time
  •     Get enough sleep
  •     Get exercise

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Healthier Relationships and Significant Others
No matter what anyone may tell you, relationships are never easy.  It takes work, care, and commitment from both people in a relationship to make it successful.  Many of us have had relationships that just didn't work out the way we wanted them to.  This may have occurred because the relationship wasn't meant to be or because both individuals may not have understood what makes a meaningful relationship work.

Here are some tips that can help you enhance your relationships:

  • Be specific when communicating.  Rather than a general, "I love you" or "I like to be with you," say what you love about the person and why you like to be with them.
  • Be honest from the start.  If you don't want to date someone, it is best to let them know that you are not interested.
  • Treat the relationship as a friendship first.  Don't rush into anything until both of you are sure of what you want.
  • Don't put on an act if you are unhappy.  Let the other person know how you feel and why.
  • It is important to have balance between independence and dependence.  Don't be afraid to do things for yourself or by yourself.  An "I can't live without you" attitude may be scary for the other person.
  • Don't be afraid to be alone.  If you need to see each other all of the time, you're not in love, you're addicted.
  • Don't be afraid to argue.  Constructive arguing can clarify issues and develop a closeness through communicating and understanding.
  • Avoid sexual intimacy as long as possible.  It is important to get to know each other and establish a trusting relationship first.  Remember that sex does not equal love.
  • Play together.  Learn to do something fun together such as a sport.
  • Don't expect that developing a relationship will be easy.  Lasting relationships are created and maintained through a lot of hard work.  Be prepared to have some tough times.

Remember, there is no formula for a good relationship.  Couples who have long-lasting, close relationships understand that differences can be overcome.  Both individuals need to communicate and realize what the other is going through.  Individuals in healthy relationships are able to work through the rough times and, as a result, can become stronger couples.

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Compulsive Computer Use:  Are you spending too much time on the computer?
What do papers, spreadsheets, research, presentations, and e-mail all have in common?  They usually require the use of computers.

In our society, computer use has become a common factor in daily life.  Unfortunately, compulsive computer users let computers override their normal activities.  When used excessively, computers can control and even ruin your life.  Here are some signs that you may use the computer compulsively:

  • lost sleep or missed meals
  • missing classes or tests
  • lower grades
  • pain in hands
  • visual problems or headaches
  • lying about the amount of time spent on the computer
  • constant checking of e-mail
  • financial problems
  • arguments with friends
  • less time spent with friends

If these symptoms apply to you, you may be spending too much time on the computer.  To be sure, keep track of your non-academic computer use in one week. If computers seem to be taking up the majority of your time or if you sleep fewer hours than you spend on the computer, you need to get help.

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Learning How to Study
Most likely, college studying will be different than the way you studied in high school.  Going to college brings new freedoms:  Mom will no longer be there to encourage you to finish your report and professors will not check-up on you to make sure you are reading the book they assigned the way your teachers did back home.  Don't worry!  The most important thing about studying is your attitude.  If you want to learn, think POSITIVELY and follow these important suggestions for more productive studying:

  • Be comfortable, but not so comfortable you fall asleep!
  • Choose a straight chair.
  • Find good lighting.
  • Keep your work area clear.
  • Organize the materials you will need.
  • Avoid visual and auditory disturbances.

Hopefully, your main purpose at college is to receive a good education.  Good grades require good study habits. Make studying your business!  If you feel overwhelmed with your studies, try following these tips:

  • For a short period, do something else besides studying (stretch, take a walk, get a drink of water, take a shower).
  • After your break, go back and review your notes to get a fresh start before you continue studying!
  • Use the Wartburg College Writing Lab.
  • Attend supplemental instruction (S.I.) sessions.

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 Feeling Homesick?  You are not alone!
You may feel all alone in your struggle with homesickness. However, there are many other students at college feeling the same way!  Students tend to feel homesick primarily during their first year away from home.  However, students may also become homesick after breaks, summer-time, Christmas vacations, and many times in between!  Homesickness can affect us all! Some effects of homesickness include depression, anxiety, stress, irritability, and loss of interest.  Here are some helpful hints for overcoming homesickness:

  • Keep busy--Find new hobbies to expand your interests.
  • Keep in touch--Maintain contact with your family and friends at home by phone, mail, or Email.
  • Talk about it with others--You could talk to people such as family members, friends, campus counselor, or pastors.
  • Get involved--Many campus clubs and organizations need YOUR help.
  • Don't live in the past and start building NEW memories--Believe it or not, your days at college will pass quickly!
  • Live in the moment!

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Eating Disorders
Did you know that 1% of teenage girls and 5% of college women become anorexic or bulimic?  According to the 1996 Council on Size and Discrimination, young girls say they are more afraid of becoming fat than of nuclear war, cancer, or losing their parents.  Eating disorders are typically more common in females, but males are also susceptible.  Here is a list of signs that may indicate you or a friend has an eating disorder:

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Severe weight loss
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Cold hands and feet
  • General weakness
  • Constipation and digestive problems
  • Insomnia
  • Amenorrhea (loss of menstrual periods)
  • Excessive exercise

Symptoms of Bulimia

  • Average or slightly above average weight
  • Bingeing and purging "in secret"
  • Abuse of laxatives and diuretics
  • Periods of fasting and over-exercising
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation and digestive problems
  • Severe dental problems
  • Muscle weakness

If you or a friend are experiencing any of these symptoms, please seek help!

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Good Communication Skills
"What?", "I don't understand what you're saying!", "What do you mean?", "Huh?", "Never mind!"
Are these statements included in most of your conversations?  Well, even if they aren't, we all need to be reminded of what qualities make a good listener or communicator.

Learning how to talk and listen effectively can help you develop better relationships with parents, professors, employers, siblings, friends, and significant others.  We need to be able to communicate our feelings and opinions in a clear manner, and we also need to be good listeners for others when they need to talk to us.  Sounds like a lot to handle?  Don't worry!  Good communication and listening skills come easy with a little practice.  Here are some communication tips that will help:

  • Eye contact with the person you are talking with or listening to is very important.  This will show them that you are interested in what they have to say.
  • Think before you speak.  Make sure your words truly reflect what you want to say and how you want to say it.
  • Speak clearly and slowly.  You will appear more confident and others will understand you better.
  • Match verbal and non-verbal messages. Your mouth may be saying one thing, but your body language could be saying something else.
  • When someone is talking to you, listen to the entire message.  Hold off giving advice until you have heard everything.
  • Focus on the other person and what they are saying.  Don't let yourself be distracted by your environment, devote time to understanding what the other person has to say.
  • Ask appropriate and open-ended questions.  Avoid questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no."  Asking "How?", "Why?", or "What do you think about that?" is more effective.
  • If you don't understand something, say so.  Repeat what you heard by saying, "So you feel this way because..."

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Improving Self-Esteem
Self-esteem is how we value ourselves, how we perceive our value to the world, and how valuable we think we are to others.  Self-esteem affects our trust in others, our relationships, our work, and essentially every other part of our lives.

Signs of Positive Self-Esteem:

  • Confidence
  • Self-direction
  • Responsibility: You don't blame others for your mistakes
  • Ability to make mistakes and learn from them
  • Optimism
  • Feeling comfortable with a wide range of emotions
  • An ability to trust others
  • Good self-care

Signs of Low Self-Esteem:

  • Negative view of life
  • Perfectionist attitude
  • Mistrusting others: Including individuals who show you signs of affection.
  • Blaming others for your actions
  • Fear of taking risks
  • Feeling unloved and unlovable
  • Dependence: Letting others make decisions for you.
  • Feelings of unworthiness and incompetence

Affirmations towards a more positive self-esteem:

  • I respect myself and others
  • I am lovable and likable
  • I care about myself
  • I am creating loving, healthy relationships
  • I accept myself just as I am
  • Life is good, and I like being part of it

It is important to understand that building self-esteem will require time and hard work.  For some people it may require professional counseling, or a self-esteem support group.  (Information taken from the brochure: "Improving Self-Esteem"  MCMXCIII Performance Resource Press, Inc.)