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How to Deal with Depression

Danielle Kloap
Around Campus Editor   

   With classes, moving away from home and added stress, depression can become a problem for some college students.

   Gateway Student Support Services gave a “Lifting the Cloud of Depression” workshop to teach students about the signs and symptoms of depression and how to overcome it.

   “The threat of (depression) is very very serious,” said Laura Hughes, director of Counseling, Testing and Career Services. 

   There are four types of depression: major depression-symptoms last two years or longer, chronic depression-symptoms last at least two weeks but less than two years, Bipolar disorder and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

   Some causes of depression are brain chemical imbalance, genetics, health conditions, medications, stress and being around negative people.  Gender can have an effect on depression as well.  Women are two times more likely to be depressed than men. 

   Although typically perceived as “uncommon,” depression in men should be taken seriously.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men described symptoms of being depressed without realizing they were depressed.  The study said some men were aware of their depression, but feared seeking help because of being labeled as having a mental health problem.

   Emotional symptoms of depression include feeling sad, empty, hopeless, loss of interest in normal activities and thoughts of death or suicide.

   Some people do not realize the body produces physical symptoms when they feel depressed.  Physical symptoms include headaches, back pain, chest pain, digestive problems, sleep problems and dizziness.

   To help students figure out if they are depressed, the campus provides a depression screening.  Hughes said they score and give the students the results immediately.  The students are given material and Hughes said she encourages students to meet with her.

   Other disorders that can have a huge affect on students are anxiety disorders. 

   Anxiety disorders are normal reactions to stress.  In some cases, it can help a student to study harder for an exam or focus more on school work, but when it becomes excessive, it can be a disabling disorder. The five major types of anxiety disorders comprise Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Phobia and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

   GAD occurs when people cannot get rid of their concerns.  Their worries come with physical symptoms, including fatigue, headaches and muscle tension.  According to Active Minds, an organization devoted to raising metal health awareness on college campuses, GAD affects about four million American adults.  The biggest risk for GAD occurs between childhood and middle age. The treatments for GAD include psychotherapy and medication.

   Obsessive-Compulsive disorder plagues people with unwelcome thoughts or images, or the need to engage in daily rituals. According to the Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation, the brain gets stuck on one thought or urge and cannot let go, which causes problems with information processing. said treatment of OCD typically includes medication or behavior therapy.  In behavior therapy, patients are presented with situations that cause them to perform their rituals and are encouraged not to perform the rituals they associate with that event.

   “With OCD, it’s like you’re trapped in your own world.  It can be very controlling,” Hughes said.

   Active Minds said that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can result from experiencing, witnessing or participating in a traumatic event.  Sufferers have persistent thoughts and memories of their ordeal.   Women are more likely to develop PSTD than men.  Typically, PTSD starts within three months of the traumatic ordeal and can trigger flashbacks of the event. PTSD can be treated with medication and psychotherapy.  

   Social Phobia, also known as Social Anxiety Disorder, causes overwhelming anxiety in social settings.  People with SP have an intense fear of being watched and judged by others.  SP can be limited to being scared in only certain situations, like speaking in front of a class. 

   “This isn’t your typical ‘I’m nervous to get in front of the classroom and talk’ feeling,” Hughes said.  “They really can’t function.”

   Symptoms of SP include sweating, trembling, nausea and difficulty talking. said seeing a therapist can help treat SP. 

   Seasonal Affective Disorder can be triggered when the changing of the seasons brings on shorter days and longer nights.  This can trigger feelings of depression, lethargy and fatigue.  SAD should not be shrugged off as something that can be dealt with on one’s own, because this is a form of depression.  Treatment can include light box therapy.

   Students should also remember that depression happens to everyone, including famous people.  According to Active Minds, Abraham Lincoln suffered from suicidal depressions.  Ms. Kansas pageant winner of 1999 suffered from clinical depression during her sophomore year in college. Ludwig von Beethoven, Vincent Van Gogh and Edgar Allan Poe all suffered from bipolar depression.

   If someone feels depressed, they should seek help.  The following ways can help alleviate depression:

  • Attend regular sessions and be frank with your therapist.

  • Set realistic goals.

  •  Break large tasks into smaller ones.  Reward yourself when you complete the task.

  • Set priorities and do what you can when you can.

  • Try to spend time with other people and confide your feelings to them.

  • Participate in normal activities

  • Let family and friends help.

  • Make time for exercise without overdoing it.

   Depression sufferers can get help from various places: community mental health centers, general hospitals, mental hospitals, spiritual leaders, family service agencies, schools and employers.  UAM students suffering from depression can get help by contacting Hughes at 460-1454 or, or by contacting Terri Richardson, student health services nurse, at 460-1051 or          

   Depression sufferers should remember that people rarely get over depression quickly, but get a little better each day.  Feeling better will take time, and will come faster with positive thinking.    

   Have a comment? Please e-mail us.


©The Voice 2007
Revised 09/17/2007 08:12:03 PM —


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