Everyone has down days. The alarm doesn’t go off, someone steals the last parking spot, there’s no more milk in the fridge or homesickness strikes yet again. Imagine having these “down days” everyday, for no specific reason. It feels impossible to shake, with no end in sight. No friends seem to understand. For some, these are symptoms of depression.
Sufferers of depression are fighting an ongoing battle. Most people have known someone with the some type of depression or have experienced it firsthand.
It is vital for students with depression to know that there is help available. The first step is identifying the kind of depression. According to the “Psychological Science” textbook used in Psychology 101, there are two types.
First is major depression. This is particularly severe, resulting in “appetite and weight changes, sleep disturbances, loss of energy, difficulty concentrating, feelings of self-reproach or guilt and frequent thoughts of death and suicide.”
Second is dysthymia, a form of mild to moderate depression. The symptoms are similar to major depression, although less severe.
In addition, Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC) counselor Georgia Dekeyser noted the role of lack of sunlight in behavioral disorders. Atypical depression, a subtype of depression, is linked to decreased sunlight.
Furthermore, bipolar depression has been associated with the change in seasons – fall to winter and winter to spring.
“Depression is the most common diagnosis of (students) seeking services at the SHCC,” Dekeyser said.
Dekeyser also noted that depression is treated one of three ways: medication, counseling or a combination of medication and counseling.
If an individual feels they need help, Dekeyser recommends reaching out to others. She encourages students to seek professional help – to call the SHCC and ask for a mental health counselor.
If a student sees a friend they think may be struggling with depression, they should “encourage (them) to seek professional help and encourage them to continue using positive coping methods, such as exercise and outdoor activities.”
While this may be difficult to do during the wintertime, the Student Union rents outdoor equipment for relatively low prices. With trails as close as Goose Lake, it can be easy to take a friend out snowshoeing to brighten their mood.
The CDC reports that college-aged students exhibit symptoms of minor depression more than any other age group. For this reason, it is vital to know where to get help if a student begins to slip into dangerous territory. The SHCC is available to any student taking six or more credits and has paid the SHCC fee.
Located on the first floor of Rasmuson Hall, students can show up for a variety of services such as counseling, medication or recommendations for other community resources. When asked what students really need to hear about depression, Dekeyser expressed the need for them to care for themselves.
“Exercising, eating good foods, avoiding drugs and alcohol, laughing, nurturing relationships, hobbies and spiritual parts are all important,” she said.