- Clinical depression can affect your body, mood, thoughts, behavior, eating habits, how you feel & think about things,
your ability to work and study, and how you interact with people.
- Clinical depression is not a passing mood, a sign of personal weakness, or a condition that can be willed away.
- Depression can be successfully treated by a mental health professional or certain health care providers.
- With the right treatment, 80% of those who seek help will get better, sometimes in only just a few weeks.
The Three Most Prevalent Forms of Depression:
- 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. The symptoms are:
- Sadness, Anxiety, or "empty" feelings
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
- Loss if interest or pleasure in usual activities
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia, oversleeping, or waking much earlier than usual
- Appetite and weight changes (either loss or gain)
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and worthlessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
- Irritability or excessive crying
- Chronic aches and pains not explained by another physical condition
- Dysthymia is a less intense type of depression, involving long-term, chronic symptoms that are less severe,
but keep you from functioning at your full ability and from feeling well.
- Bipolar Illness (a.k.a. Manic-Depressive Illness) is characterized by cycles of depression that alternate
with cycles of elation and increased activity, known as mania. Sometimes the mood swings are dramatic or rapid, but most
often they occur gradually, over several weeks. The "up" or manic phase can include increased energy and activity, insomnia,
grandiose notions and impulsive or reckless behavior, including sexual promiscuity. Medication is usually effective in controlling
manic symptoms and preventing the recurrence of both manic and depressive episodes.
What Causes Depression?:
The causes of depression are complex. Very often, a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors are
involved in the onset of clinical depression. At times, however, depression occurs for no apparent reason. Regardless of the
cause, depression is almost always treatable. The most common factors are stress & family history.
College and Stress:
Common stressors in college 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 temptations;
awareness of your sexual identity and orientation; preparing for life after graduation.
Psychological make-up can also place a role in vulnerability to depression. People who have low self-esteem, who
consistently view themselves and the world with pessimism, or are readily overwhelmed by stress may be especially prone to
Depression and Suicide:
Suicidal feelings, thoughts, impulses, or behaviors are usually signs of severe depression and 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 student advisor, staff at the student health or counseling
center, a professor or coach, a local suicide or emergency hotline, a hospital emergency room, or simply call 911.
If someone you know has thoughts about suicide, the best thing to do is help him or her to get professional help.
Depression and Alcohol/Other Drugs:
A lot of depressed people, especially teenagers, also have problems with alcohol or other drugs. (Alcohol is
a drug, too). Sometimes the depression comes first and people try drugs as a way to escape it. (In the long run, drugs or
alcohol just make things worse!) Other times, the alcohol or other drug use comes first, and depression is caused by the drug
itself, the withdrawal from it, or the other problems that substance abuse causes. Sometimes, you can't tell which came first,
but the important point is that, when you have both of these problems, the sooner you get treatment, the better.
Getting Help, Treatment Works:
If you think you might be depressed, discuss this with a qualified health care or mental health professional
who can evaluate your concerns. Bring along an understanding friend for support if you are hesitant or anxious about the appointment.
Several effective treatment 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
Sharing your preferences and concerns with your treatment provider helps determine the course of treatment. Certain
types of psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, can help resolve the psychological or interpersonal problems
that contribute to, or result from, the illness. Antidepressant medications relieve the physical and mood symptoms of depression
and are not habit-forming. In severe depression, medication is usually required.
Individuals respond different to treatment. If you don't start feeling better after several weeks, talk to the
professional you are seeing about trying other treatments or getting a second opinion.
Don't let fear of what others might say or think stop you from doing what's best for you. Parents and friends
may understand more than you think they might, and they certainly want you to feel better.