Holiday season pressures ignite depression

Social service professionals do not agree that holiday depression really exists.

However, researchers do agree that the holidays are significantly stressful because people over commit themselves.

Depression is a psychological and genetic disorder, which causes the feeling of severe sadness to last for more than two weeks and keeps a person from performing daily activities.

There are three types of depression: Dysthymia, Bipolar and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Terrell Freeman, coordinator of Student Affairs for the Florida A&M University’s Center for Human Development said, “There is such a thing as seasonal depression. However, there is not an increase in the amount of students served due to the holidays.”

According to Jose A. Rendon and Julie Sandler, the authors of “Dealing With Holiday Stress and Depression,” suicide rates are higher during the spring, and there is not an increase in the number of clients that mental-health counselors serve during November and December.

“I mean, it’s a lot to handle being away from the people you love during the majority of the break and year, buying gifts and just making sure I keep my grades up,” said Kevin Grant, a senior computer information system student from Winter Haven.

“But I figure I may be stressed now, but it will be worth it in the end,” he added.

Some students have negative experiences during the break such as the loss of a loved one or being placed on academic probation.

“The first time I visited the Counseling Center was in December. Both my aunt and grandmother had past away. It was a horrible time for me,”said Zenita Lawson, counselor for Volunteers of America and a 1998 FAMU graduate.

“Mr. Simmons [counselor for the University’s Center for Human Development] provided me with the social services I needed,” Lawson said.

“I recommend the counseling center to all students who are going through difficult times,” Lawson added.

Everyone involved in the university system may experience stress during the close of the fall semester.

Students are working frantically to end the semester with good grades. Professors are tabulating grades. School officials are ending the fall semester and preparing for the spring semester.

Freeman added, “Many of the students the Center for Human Development serves have issues regarding relationships, adjustment to college, poor grades, and major or career uncertainty.”

Some symptoms of depression are persistent sadness, low academic performance, change in sleep patterns and alcohol and drug abuse.

The Center for Human Development, located across from the front entrance to Tucker Hall and adjacent to the Gore Education Building, provides social services such as peer counseling and social groups. The center is also working to implement a student centered depression support group.