College is an exciting and challenging time of life. So many changes, leaving home, living independently, getting less sleep, making seemingly earth shattering choices and taking tough classes! You or your family might find it all a bit too much! It’s normal to experience anxiety, moodiness, sadness or grouchiness to occur but it usually passes with a little time. If lingering hopelessness, sadness or irritability lasts over two weeks and disrupts normal activity, you might have depression.
Depression is a medical condition and can be treated. Early treatment is best. Colleges offer free or low cost mental health services to students. Depression is a very common health problem for college students. The National institute of Mental Health Lists these signs and symptoms of depression:
- Lingering sadness, anxiety, or empty moods,
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic,
- Feeling guilt, worthlessness or helpless,
- Losing interest in activities or pleasure in hobbies,
- Low energy, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating or making decisions,
- Appetite or weight changes,
- Considering death or suicide,or harming yourself,
- Experiencing unusual physical problems like headaches, muscle aches, restlessness or irritability.
Someone who has depression may only have a few or experience all these symptoms, but if it interferes with your functioning, get help immediately. Health takes precedence over academics, these feelings are a warning from your body! Would you ignore a bleeding wound? These symptoms are not character flaws. Depression can be treated and you will get better. Taking a break to listen to your body can improve success in college!
If you don’t respond to your body’s call for help it could get worse and rob you of the reason you went to college in the first place. Colleges have Health Centers and mental health services available 24/7, or call 911, or call 1-800-237-TALK (8255), or call campus security, or get a friend and go to the nearest emergency room. Don’t go this alone,dealing with tough situations like these alone do not make you stronger, get help!
Learn more at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website. You should plan ahead for mental health needs just like physical health care while at college. Don’t make depression your silent disability.
Pat Woerheide, RN