College offers new experiences and challenges. This can be exciting – it can also be stressful and make you, or someone you know, feel sad. But when “the blues” last for weeks, or interfere with academic or social functioning, it may be clinical depression.
National Depression Screening Day is on Thursday, October 4th. Counseling Services will be providing free screenings & information on depression outside Founders Hall from 12-2pm. Please stop by and visit us!
Clinical depression can affect your body, mood, thoughts, and behavior. It can change your eating habits, how you feel and think about things, your ability to work and study and how you interact with people.
Major depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, eat and enjoy once pleasurable activities. These impairing episodes of depression can occur once, twice, or several times in a lifetime.
Some symptoms of major depression are sadness, anxiety, or “empty” feelings, decreased energy, loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, sleep disturbances, appetite and weight changes, feelings of hopelessness, guilt and worthlessness, thoughts of death or suicide.
The first step in defeating depression is recognizing it. Five or more symptoms for two weeks or longer, or noticeable changes in usual functioning, are all factors that should be evaluated by a health or mental health professional.
Depression often runs in families, which usually means that some, but not all, family members have a tendency to develop the illness. On the other hand, sometimes people who have no family history also develop depression.
In coping with stress, some people find writing in a journal, exercising, or talking with friends helpful. But in clinical depression you need some form of treatment to start feeling better soon.
Common stressors in college life include: greater academic demands, being on your own in a new environment, changes in family relations, financial responsibilities, changes in your social life, exposure to new people, ideas, and temptation, awareness of your sexual identity and orientation and preparing for life after graduation.
Medication usually is effective in controlling manic symptoms and preventing the recurrence of both manic and depressive episodes.
Thoughts of death or suicide are usually signs of severe depression. “If you’re feeling like you can’t cope anymore, or that life isn’t worth living, get help,” advised Darrel, a student who tried to kill himself during his freshman year. “Talking to a professional can get you past those intense feelings and save your life.”
Suicidal feelings, thoughts, impulses, or behaviors always should be taken seriously. If you are thinking about hurting or killing yourself, seek help immediately. Contact someone you trust to help you: a good friend, academic or resident advisor, or staff at the student health or counseling center, a professor, coach or advisor, public safety (610-902-8245), a suicide prevention hotline (1-800-273-8255), a hospital or emergency room or call 911. If someone you know has thoughts about suicide, the best thing to do is help him or her get professional help.
Several effective treatments for depression are available and can provide relief from symptoms in just a few weeks. The most commonly used treatments are psychotherapy, antidepressant medication, or a combination of the two. Which is the best treatment for an individual depends on the nature and severity of the depression.
The best thing you can do for a depressed friend is to help him or her get treatment. This may involve encouraging the person to seek professional help or to stay in treatment once it is begun. The next best thing is to offer emotional support. People are sometimes reluctant to seek help because they are concerned about the cost of treatment. Cabrini offers free and confidential counseling to students. Another option is to call your health insurance company to find out about your mental health benefits.
If you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms of depression, you can reach counseling services at 610-902-8561 or stop by the office. Counseling services is located in Grace Hall room 196. You can either make n appointment or stop by during walk-in hours from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday.
This week’s health nut it a courtesy of the Director of Counseling Services, Sara T. Maggitti, Psy.D.