Many of us have felt sad or alone at some point. When sadness becomes too much to handle, or lingers for a long time, it may be a sign of depression. Depression is a medical condition that can affect people's ability to work, study, interact with people or take care of themselves. It can be caused by imbalances in brain chemistry. But it can also be triggered by stress, poor nutrition, physical illness, personal loss, and school or relationship difficulties.
Not everyone experiences depression in the same way. Depressed people may appear withdrawn and despondent, or they may be aggressive and self-destructive. Some people may be depressed about a specific problem, while others feel deeply unhappy without knowing why. Sometimes, a depressed person may even appear "fine" to their friends and family. The common thread, however, is an overwhelming, persistent feeling of despair.
Depression affects about 19 million people in the United States every year. Depression can occur as a one-time incident during a time of distress, or it can recur throughout a person's life. The first episode of depression often appears during the young adult years. In fact, nearly half of all college students say they've felt so depressed that they found it difficult to function during the last school year.
Depression isn't always easy to spot. Some people experience primarily behavioral changes, some mainly emotional changes, and still others mostly physical changes. Here are some warning signs that a person may be depressed:
- Persistently sad, anxious, irritable, or empty mood
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Significant change in appetite and/or weight
- Overreaction to criticisms
- Feeling unable to meet expectations
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
- Persistent physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive problems, or chronic pain that do not respond to routine treatment
- Substance abuse problems
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
The good news is that depression is highly treatable. There are many methods to treat depression, including medication and/or counseling. Between 80 - 90% of people treated for depression experience significant improvement, and almost all individuals gain some relief from their symptoms.
People who are depressed commonly think about suicide. It's important to seek help immediately if you or someone you know is having these thoughts.
(From the Jed Foundation) Full Article
- Depression Screening Test: This self-test offered by Mental Health America can help you determine whether you are experiencing depression.
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA): Mission is to educate patients, families, professionals and the public concerning the nature of depression and bipolar illness as medical diseases; to foster self-help for patients and families; to eliminate discrimination and stigma; to improve the availability and quality of help and support; and to advocate for research toward the elimination of these illnesses.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Information and resources about anxiety and depression, and related issues such as obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias.
General Mental Health Resources
The menu on the right will link you to information on specific mental health topics. -->
Below are additional links to excellent websites for mental health information:
- Go Ask Alice: Website operated by Columbia University to answer the questions of college students on issues related to physical health, mental health, and sexuality.
- Half Of Us: This engaging youth-oriented site uses video stories of students and high-profile artists to increase awareness about mental health issues and the importance of getting help.
- Healthyminds.org: This website of the American Psychiatric Association offers a broad array of information on topics related to mental health.
- Helpguide: Website operated by a non-profit organization offers information and resources on a broad range of mental health topics.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): An advocacy group for people living with mental illness and their loved ones. Good source of information and resources on mental health topics.
- ReachOut.com: An information and support service using evidence based principles and technology to help teens and young adults facing tough times and struggling with mental health issues.
- ULifeLine.org: An online resource for college students with information about protecting your emotional health and what to do if you or friends are struggling with mental health issues.
- Student Health 101