Student copes with anxiety, depression during time at Iowa State

Finals week is one of the most stressful weeks that college students go through in their academic life. But students who have anxiety disorder or depression have to endure it with many other challenges.

National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week is May 5-11, 2013.

Danielle Levings, senior in psychology, successfully manages both anxiety and depression and has overcome obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“When I was 17, I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. I went to therapy, and I got medication, and I beat that,” Levings said.

This finals week marks Levings’ last set of college finals, and she has made it through each one with preparation and focus on her personal wellness.

“I don’t believe in staying up [and] pulling an all-nighter to finish a paper because its not going to be good, and you’re not going to feel good,” Levings said.

Her biggest advice to students with anxiety is to take time out of every day for yourself.

“The main message is wellness; take care of yourself as a whole person, mind and body,” said Levings.

During finals week, students tend to become more stressed and anxious. There are facilities on campus that are here to assist students that are in need of guidance. The Student Counseling Services has people available to help students through tough times.

“My mortar or pillars of mental and physical healthy are: Sleep regularly (about seven to nine hours every night), eat regularly (three meals a day), and lastly, exercise at least five times a week,” said Dr. Carver Nebbe, psychiatrist and family practitioner at Thielen Student Health Center.

Levings first noticed that she had a problem with OCD during high school while at a waterpark. She did not want to touch the same tubes as other people, and it made her very nervous.

She went home and told her mom what she had been feeling and that she had a problem. She had obsessive-compulsive disorder relating to germs and diseases. She did not want to touch anything that had germs on it: for example, remote controls and door handles.

“[My mom] sat on her computer and compiled a list of therapists in the area and said, ‘No matter what it takes, I’m going to help you, and I love you,’” Levings said.

Along with her OCD, anxiety and depression also stemmed from a younger age.

“I had a difficult adolescence; I was bullied,” Levings said. “I was bullied in school because I was different.”

She was picked on throughout middle school and high school. Even her own teammates from the swim team contributed to the bullying. 

“My senior year I finally realized how toxic it was, and I said, ‘Enough,’” Levings said.

She took action about her conditions and has been taking medication for the last three years. She said she is doing great on them.

“If you don’t like something, you have the power to change it. You just have to find the avenue of which to do so,” Levings said.

Levings is graduating suma cum laude this year from Iowa State and going onto graduate school at Kansas State in the fall. She plans on studying to become a therapist.

“I want to make other people’s lives better,” Levings said.