When Someone You Know...
…Might Be Experiencing Depression
What Is Depression?
Depression is a treatable illness (called a “mood disorder”) that seriously impacts our overall outlook. It can result from a chemical imbalance or as a response to overwhelming life circumstances. Estimates are that 17 million Americans of all ages and races suffer from untreated depression.
What are the Signs (Symptoms) of Depression?
Does someone you know experience these:
- Persistent, deep feelings of sadness
- Inability to enjoy things, including other people, that used to be enjoyable
- Frequent crying
- Difficulty making decisions
- Lack of motivation and low energy (Getting up and dressed is a nearly overwhelming challenge every day.)
- Can't sleep (or sleep too much)
- Can't eat (or eat too much)
- Lack of interest in much of anything
- Thoughts of, or plans to, kill oneself *
*Also see the Counseling Center brochure on Suicide
Types of Depression
Major Depression - If someone you know consistently experiences many of the symptoms listed above for over two weeks, he/she might have
Major clinical depression.
Dysthymia - Although less severe than Major depression, this is still a serious form of depression. People experience the following symptoms most of the day, nearly every day:
- Low, “down” mood
- Poor appetite or overeating
- Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping a lot
- Low energy or fatigue
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
Feeling hopeless at times
Bipolar disorder - (Manic-Depressive Disorder) The person alternates between depression (severe “low”) and mania (a frantic "high"). Changes in mood can be sudden, but are usually gradual. "Manic" symptoms are these:
- Excessive overconfidence
- Feel little need for sleep
- Excessive talking or feeling of anxiety and pressure to keep talking
- Feeling that mind is "racing"
- Very easily distracted
- Greatly increased and frantic energy and activity, especially in potentially harmful areas (spending sprees, sexual promiscuity, and foolish, grandiose financial decisions or investments).
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - This depression can be the result of dark, gloomy fall and winter weather. There is a significant incidence of SAD in the Northwest, where we experience long periods of gray, cloudy, sunless days.
Factors in Depression Among College Students
“Traditional” Students (17-20+)
- Career direction confusion
- Identity development
- Values clarification
- Sexuality and intimacy
- Relationship endings
- Parental divorce
- Death of friends, family
“Non-Traditional” (returning adult) students
- Career, financial, and life changes
- Family and relationship issues
- Stress over returning to school
- Time management challenges
Other issues for both
- Gender-related issues, cultural issues, culture shock
- Direct and indirect victims of on-campus or off-campus violence
- Sexual orientation, harassment
- Substance abuse (often self-medicating in attempt to reduce stressful or manic feelings, but alcohol and many other drugs are depressants themselves.)
- HIV +/AIDS status
- Abuse issues: physical, sexual, emotional, verbal
- Suicide of friends/family members
What can I do to help someone I know —or even myself?
Here are some action steps to combat depression. Depression is a treatable illness!
- See a Medical doctor: Find out if physical problems are affecting your mood (hormone imbalance, thyroid problems, PMS or peri-menopause, sleep disorders, other chemical imbalances). Antidepressant medications can be very helpful, particularly when combined with counseling or therapy.
- Visit or call the Edmonds CC Counseling Center to make an appointment for short-term counseling with a professional counselor, who can help by listening, offering feedback, exploring options, and providing referrals to resources
- Make an appointment with community mental health providers (such as Compass Health
- Consult Naturopaths/Homeopaths, Nutritionists, who work with natural remedies
- Other alternative health therapies; such as acupuncture, acupressure, massage, etc. Natural herbs/vitamins might be helpful, but work with an expert for correct dosage and to avoid possible harmful drug interactions
Some Self-Help Approaches
Add these to the above suggestions, or use them to cope with mild depression (or a bad mood or a lousy day!) Be aware that people with serious clinical depression might find the following difficult to do. Take one small step at a time & be patient.
- Exercise: work out, walk, do Yoga, martial arts, swimming, stretching, aerobics
- Talk with an understanding friend or friends
- Don’t expect perfection! Have realistic goals and expectations.
- Take a break: meditate, pray, relax, rest
- Treat yourself to an inexpensive, sweet treat or small indulgence
- Cuddle a pet or stuffed animal
- Try to avoid taking on new, non-essential projects that will add more stress
- Try to get a full night’s sleep, or take naps
- Create and use affirmations: short, positive phrases describing how you want to feel
- Eat or drink something nutritious
- Listen to upbeat, positive, inspiring music
- Take a long, warm bubble bath
- Get into nature: ocean, forests, mountains
|National Institute of Mental Health|
|National Alliance on Mental Illness|
|American Psychological Association|
|Care Crisis Line|
|Snohomish County Care Crisis Line:||425.258.HELP (4357) or 1.800.584.3578|
|(24-hour telephone crisis counseling; interpreters available)|
|King County Crisis Line:||206.461.3222 or 1.800.244.5767|