Dealing with Depression in College
By: Erika Jaramillo
Sometimes, going off to college means traveling to an unfamiliar city or area, away from your family and friends. You may experience a severe sense of loneliness. Combine the overwhelming stress that is typically caused by excess schoolwork, and one can easily develop a case of depression. But how do you differentiate between true clinical depression from just a natural moment of sadness or moodiness? Clinical depression is a mood disorder in which your uncontrollable feelings of sadness, anger, or frustration affects your ability to properly function in your everyday life. These "sad" feelings remain for an extended period of time and do not diminish after hearing a really good joke, for example. Common signs of depression may include any of the following: a feeling of hopelessness, lack of motivation, fatigue, changes in appetite (increasing or decreasing), physical pain, constant sense of anxiety, and disinterest in people and activities you once found enjoyable.
While depression is sparked by a number of factors, including a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics, family issues or a death, college students are prone to experience depression because of a variety of other reasons, such as homesickness, sleep deprivation, anxiety about sexual orientation, uncertainty about money or even problems with social and romantic relationships. Abusing alcohol and drugs in addition to poor eating and exercise habits are also known to induce and intensify the symptoms of depression. No matter what the reason of your depression, it can be helped and cured with the method of talk therapy or medication. It’s important that if you ever have suicidal thoughts to seek help immediately. Go talk to a campus counseling center or call their emergency hotline. Remember that 911 is always an option as well if you feel you are an immediate harm to yourself. If your condition is not as urgent but does not subside, remember that all colleges have some sort of health center where trained professionals can talk to you about your condition. Also, if you live in a dorm, sometimes it’s a good idea to let your roommates and residence hall assistance know what’s going on. Don’t be embarrassed to express your feelings, they can help you.