Every student has experienced the melancholy and general sadness that characterizes the "blues." It is normal to experience a wide range of emotions and variations in our moods day-to-day. The "blues" are a temporary reaction usually brought on by loss or disappointment, and things usually brighten within a few days of their onset. But there are some individuals who experience a serious and persistent, more debilitating condition that may be a sign of Clinical Depression.
Depression can affect anyone at anytime. Feeling blue, sad, down in the dumps or just "blah" is something we all experience. However, depression is different from normal mood fluctuations in that it is more intense, chronic, and debilitating and it interferes with the individual's ability to enjoy life. It affects the total person – often changing the depressed person's feelings, behaviors, physical and mental health, and the ability to handle everyday decisions and stressors.
Depression is a serious illness which affects 17 to 20 million adult Americans each year. College students can be vulnerable to depression while coping with the multiple stresses of school, work, family, social networks, and career decisions. Depression can range from mild or moderate to severe, depending on the symptoms associated with each condition and the extent that the symptoms affect or interfere with daily functioning.
Myths about Depression
Depression is a personal or moral weakness.
Depression is an illness with no single cause. Heredity, chemical changes in the body, and significant life changes or stressors can all lead to a depressive episode.
Depression is only extreme sadness: "snap out of it!"
Depression is more than sadness or having the "blues". Symptoms of depression are much more pervasive and chronic and can lead to significant impairment in one or more areas of life.
College students don't suffer from "real" depression
Depression can affect people at any age or of any race, ethnicity, and economic status
Talking about depression only makes it worse.
Fact: Talking through feelings can help a people sort out what is going on with them and may also help a friend recognize the need for professional help.
Depressed people are lazy or looking for attention.
Actually, people with depression may attempt to hide their level of distress from others. Encourage them to talk about their depression and seek the help they need.
People who talk about suicide don't commit suicide.
Many people who carry out suicidal plans have given indications or warnings to family or friends. A signal or warning might be a sudden change in the person's personality and behaviors such as giving away possessions or it may be statements such as "I wish I were dead," "I don't want to be here anymore," "My parents would be better off without me."
If a friend or family member talks like this, take it seriously! Get a university official involved by bringing the student to the Counseling Center for assistance, or letting others in authority positions know of the student's intentions. Also, if you suspect a friend is suicidal, ask him or her about any plans. You will not put any new ideas into their heads, and if they are suicidal, you could be helping them to get the help they need.
Warning Signs of Depression
5 or more of the following can indicate clinical depression
Tips for Recovery from Depression
If you continue to have depressive feelings or have suicidal thoughts, contact the Counseling Center for help. Depression is a serious but treatable disease and the longer you wait before asking for help, the longer you may experience sadness, emptiness, and/or other serious symptoms of depression. You can contact us at (317) 788-5015 to schedule an appointment. If you are experiencing serious suicidal feelings, you can also come directly to our office and we will get you in immediately to meet with one of our counselors.
For more information about the different types of depression, visit the National Institute of Mental Health Website at www.nimh.nih.gov or the American Psychological Association website at www.apa.org.
Frequently Asked Questions About Depression
What is the cause of Depression?
There is no specific or single cause and typically, depression can result from a combination of biological, genetic, and psychological factors. Some common factors that may lead to depression in certain individuals include:
In addition, a combination of environmental events and transitions can result in unique stressors that college students face including:
What are the symptoms of Depression?
Symptoms of Depression can be expressed emotionally, physically, and behaviorally. You or someone you know may be depressed if experiencing 5 or more of the following symptoms:
Are all depressive disorders alike?
No, they are not. There are various forms or types of depression and researchers do not yet know all the causes of depression or the various types. Some people might only experience one depressive episode in their lives, while others might have recurrent episodes. Some depressive episodes start for no apparent reason, while others appear to be associated with a life event or stressor.
Some people might suffer from bipolar depression in which their moods cycle between two extremes – depression to frenzied activity or grandiose ideas about their own competence or ability. Another type of depression is Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a recurring depression that occurs during the winter months and dissipates during the spring and summer months. Depending on the type of depression, a trained professional will provide appropriate treatment to address an individual's unique needs.