When it’s not just ‘the blues’

Numerous changes and life situations can cause depression for college students. The National Mental Health Association reports 30 percent of college freshmen and 38 percent of women in college feel overwhelmed with time.

Students who experience depression seek help in various ways, but others may not realize they are depressed.

Signs of depression include anger, guilt, resentment, anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, mood swings, loss of appetite, suicidal thoughts and negligence of personal hygiene.

Symptoms of depression may vary.

“Sometimes there may be a chemical imbalance, where there are just not enough ‘happy juices’ within that individual,” said Harold W. Ford, interim director at FAMU’s Center for Human Development. “And other times, it may be a situational type of depression.”

Ford defined situational depression as the result of any type of a negative situation that an individual experiences. For example, an argument with a best friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, weight gain or weight loss, may cause depression.

The reality of moving away from home and living at the University can also trigger depression.

Some students agreed.

“The pressure of being away from home and having to live up to the expectation of succeeding brings about depressing thoughts,” said Justin Moore, 18, a freshman psychology student from Miami.

For Danielle Thomas, 19, the pressure of schoolwork is overwhelming, but the freshman business administration student said if she were experiencing prolonged feelings of depression she would seek help from God through prayer.

Ford said students should understand that a death in the family, failing a test or temporary unemployment are “normal happenings” in life. He said students should try to let go of the situation, move on and get professional help if necessary. He said sharing problems is also beneficial.

“It is important to seek counseling and to talk about the issue with someone close to you,” Ford said. “It is not okay to hold it in.”

Riliwan Ottun, a 24-year-old from Long Beach, Calif., said he avoids depression.

“Depression is a form of negativity,” said the senior health science student. “The only way to succeed in life is to surround yourself with positive people regardless of the situation.”

However, Ford said students should be mindful that depression could become contagious for those who listen to the problems others experience.

According to Ford, between 500 and 600 students per semester visit the Center for counseling. He said most of the cases are situational depression, but half of those students need medication.

Stewart Hamilton, a school psychologist, said there are a number of solutions to overcoming depression.

“The individual who is depressed should engage in stress relieving activities such as exercise, interact with their environment and contact a clinical psychologist.”

Contact Malika Harrison at ayanna03@yahoo.com.