I am a 21 old girl. I am currently in my third year at university and it’s taking a huge toll on my mental health, so much so that I have contemplated dropping out. I currently live very far from home and I have been homesick. However, my homesickness has nothing to do with missing my family and friends (not particularly), I just miss not being in university, it’s incredibly stressful; I have a part-time job which causes me extreme anxiety. I have had a severe form of social anxiety for as long as I can remember. I am terrified of people talking to me or having to talk to people and it’s a huge issue when it comes to my job. I think about it every single day even if I only work a couple of times a month. I have obsessive thoughts every single day, about my job, about my weight, my friends, my studies in university. Sometimes it gets too overwhelming. i self-harm at least once a week and take great pleasure in it. I have thought about killing myself several times, sometimes it’s really overwhelming, I go through phases where I don’t see the purpose in life anymore and it really scares me. I am seeing a therapist but he is not very helpful at all, but I am too anxious to tell him I don’t want to see him anymore. I have been struggling with my sexuality for a long time. My parents and most of my friends are too homophobic to understand, but I came out as bisexual to one of them and she’s been quite nice. I have never had sex and the idea of it scares me. It’s not that I don’t have a sexual drive, I am just incredibly anxious about sharing my body with somebody else. I have met a few guys but I can’t even bring myself to even take their shirt off. The only times I have been close is when I was really drunk. I feel too self-conscious. I believe I am in love with one of my friends but she’s straight so it could never happen. It destroys me on a daily basis. Nothing is going well and all I want to do is drink and drink. I smoke and drink too much but it’s the only thing that helps.

A. You seem to know what the problem is but have yet to seek help. Untreated depression and anxiety is negatively affecting your life. That is why it is important to seek help as soon as possible. The symptoms you have described are common among people with depression and anxiety and are treatable. Mental health professionals will know how to help you.

There was a recent study by economists exploring the connection between misery and untreated mental health problems. They found that untreated mental health problems cause more misery than both poverty and unemployment. They also observed that the majority of people with mental health problems are not in treatment. Misery endures precisely because most people don’t seek treatment.

You are clearly suffering and thus the next logical move would be to seek help. Perhaps your writing to us, at Psych Central, is the first step in your help-seeking process.

Another recent study showed that most people struggle with mental health problems at some point during their lives. The problems tend to be short-lived but suffering occurs nonetheless. Suffering increases when people delay receiving treatment or when they don’t seek treatment at all.

Therapy could be very beneficial for you. College counseling centers typically have mental health professionals available to assist students, free of charge. I would highly recommend that you visit your college counseling center. If you need longer-term treatment, they will refer you to those services. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle