What is Depression?
Depression is a common but serious mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Its symptoms severely affect how one feels, thinks, and handles daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. Additionally, depression may make someone feel that life isn’t worth living. Depression is manifested differently in men and women. Depressed women are more likely to feel sadness and hopelessness whereas depressed men may experience symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, anger, anxiety, and apathy.
Types of Depression:
- Major Depression – Loss of interest, weight loss or gain, poor sleep patterns, constantly tired/ without energy, feeling worthless or guilty, trouble concentrating/ making decisions, thoughts of suicide
- Dysthymia - Depression with less severe symptoms but the symptoms persists for years
- Perinatal Depression – “Baby blues.” Depression that women may experience that occurs during pregnancy or after delivery
- Seasonal Affective Disorder – Depression characterized by its onset during winter months, due to less natural sunlight
- Bipolar Disorder - A disorder characterized by extreme high moods followed by extreme low moods
What Depression is NOT?
Depression is not simply sadness, feeling down, feeling lazy or a sign of weakness/ lack of resiliency. Depression is not something that an individual can simply “snap out” of. Depression does not automatically mean that a person is suicidal, though depression does increase the likelihood of suicidality. Finally, depression isn’t solely biological or psychological. Depression can be a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
How Common is Depression?
1 in 6 people experience depression at some point in their life though symptoms can range from minor to very severe. It affects 6.7% of American adults each year.
It's not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Tips for Professionals to Work with Students with Depression:
Set Up an Open Environment
Initiate conversation with the student.
Check on how the student is doing and let the student know that you are available to help.
Help the student plan out assignments for class.
Be supportive and empathetic.
Look for ways to help the student succeed in the classroom.
Refer Student to Professional Resources
Depression is difficult and often requires professional assistance. Services on campus include Counseling Services and The Family Center.
Counseling Services provides a number of free sessions for students and The Family Center provides services based on a sliding fee scale.
Tutors can be recommended to help students plan/ keep up with their assignments.
Reaching out to a student’s support networks could also be beneficial.