There comes a time in nearly everyone’s life in which they feel down, overwhelmed or just plain sad. These types of feelings are normal, but if the feelings are persistent and intense, there may be something else worth considering. November is Depression Awareness Month and college students are just as susceptible to the effects as anyone else.
Depression is the major reason why students come to the counseling center and first year students are the ones who are most vulnerable. College is a time of great transition and not being able to achieve a balance among jobs, free time and school can lead to a depressive state, according to Rooyman Center counselor, Suzanne Mallaghan-Rasco.
There is a difference between just feeling sad and clinical depression, however. When something stressful or upsetting happens in life, a period of depression may follow. This is, most likely, a normal part of life, but when the symptoms come to affect academics, friends and a person’s general life-style, there could be a more serious problem.
Some of the warning signs of depression include crying or the inability to cry, under or over-eating, irritability, loss of pleasure in activities that were once found to be enjoyable, loss of concentration, withdrawal and difficulty with memory. Some of the more serious warning signs that someone may be in trouble are feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt or self-blame, pessimistic thoughts and suicidal thoughts.
“Students are afraid that asking for help means that something is wrong with them.” Mallgahan-Rasco stresses that it is important to get help immediately instead of letting the problem progress, especially if suicidal thoughts and ideas are being expressed. According to a Miami University website, “Some studies show that suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 15-24. One way to prevent suicide is the early recognition and treatment of depression.”
There are many ways to treat depression. Medication is available as well as talk therapy with a counselor or maybe even just a friend. Mallaghan-Rasco said, “The best treatment is a combination of talk therapy and medication.”
On campus, the counselors in the Rooymans Center are ready to assist students who may need help or just need to talk. They are available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and on Thursday, someone is usually there until 8 p.m. Appointments can be made through Eleanor DiDonato at extension 8561 as well as by arrangement if a time is needed when counselors generally are not available.
Mallaghan-Rasco said, “If depressive symptoms persist for longer than two to three weeks, it does not mean that anything is wrong with you, but it is important to reach out for help.”
Signs of depression:
feeling that nothing can ever make you feel better
disinterest in food, work and sometimes sex