What is it?
→ Clinical depression is not just feeling sad about something. It is an illness that affects how you function at school, work and in relationships.
→ It affects how you feel emotionally and physically. Most times, you can't just “snap out of it” BUT it is treatable!
→ One reason to seek help and treatment for clinical depression is that it is the most common factor in suicide, so it can be deadly.
Symptoms of Depression:
→ Symptoms vary depending on who you are and there are different types/degrees of depression
→ Mild Depression: May have the following symptoms for an extended time (at least 2 weeks):
- Feeling sad and/or irritable
- Change in eating patterns, where you eat less or more than is usual for you
- Change in sleeping patterns, where you sleep a lot more or have trouble getting to or staying asleep
- Low energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low self-esteem and feeling down on yourself and less confident in your abilities
- Tendency to drink alcohol or use recreational drugs to try to feel better
→ Moderate to Severe Depression: May have the following symptoms for an extended time (at least two weeks):
- Symptoms listed above for Mild Depression plus:
- Not enjoying activities you usually enjoy
- Gaining or losing weight
- Feeling worthless and/or guilty
- Feeling hopeless and thinking that things will never improve
- Feeling overwhelmed by intense sadness
- Physical discomfort and pains that seem hard to explain and are frightening
- Thoughts that you might want to die or take your life
→ Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Some people experience some of the depression symptoms above when they are not exposed to as much sunlight.
- Tasks may seem significantly harder in the winter than other times of the year with more daylight.
What Causes Depression?
→ Clinical Depression is most often caused by a combination of genetic factors, biological factors and environmental/psychological factors.
→ Stressors, especially those involving loss, conflict, and major transitions, can trigger a depressive episode or make it worse.
→ Depressive episodes can seem like they come on without a clear cause.
→ Consuming alcohol and drugs can play a role in causing a depressive episode.
→ Depression is NOT a result of being lazy or a sign of weakness. It is NOT due a personal failure or lack of will power. It IS a treatable condition!
What Can You Do on Your Own That Helps?
→ Eat a healthy diet
→ Avoid alcohol and other recreational drugs that tend to make depression worse over time
→ Get on a regular sleep schedule to make sure you are getting enough sleep
→ Do things that you enjoy, especially things that make you laugh and/or smile
→ Be with people you enjoy or you can talk to about things that are bothering you
→ Keep a healthy balance of “work and play” in your daily life
→ Learn ways to cope with stress and anxiety, such as relaxation
** IF you have thoughts of taking your life or think that you would be better off dead, contact a counselor, healthcare provider or local crisis line immediately. Students can come into the Student Counseling Center during our hours (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm). After hours, contact the 24 hour crisis line in Lubbock (765-8393), go to the emergency room at Covenant or UMC, or contact TTU Campus Police (742-3931)
Helping a Friend Who Might be Depressed:
→ Be honest with your friend about your concerns and offer to listen
→ Be understanding and avoid critical or shaming comments
→ Do NOT try to “cheer up” someone who is depressed by telling them it is not so bad or they should just “get over it”
→ DO challenge their talk about hopelessness and gently point out options and other ways to look at things
→ Talk to them about seeking help and offer to take them to SCC or another place where they can get professional help
Treatment for Depression:
→ Psychotherapy or counseling is recommended, especially if depression is affecting how you are functioning. Therapy can help you:
- Understand the triggers for your depression and how to cope differently with any stress you are experiencing.
- Increase activities and thoughts that “counter-act” the depression and make it go away or lessen
- Improve your relationships with others which can help you feel less depressed
→ Medication can also be helpful in relieving symptoms, especially if you are moderately to severely depressed.
- Many of the medications used for depression help by altering levels of neurotransmitters in the brain thought to be associated with depression.
- Everyone responds differently to medication. Finding the right one and the right dose is important and needs to be monitored by a qualified health professional.
- These drugs are not like recreational drugs and they are not addictive but they do have serious side effects and should be monitored carefully by a health professional.
- While some people with moderate to severe depression may benefit from medication over a long time, medications are often prescribed for only 6-12 months.
→ A combination of counseling and medication may be the most helpful in not only relieving current symptoms BUT also in helping you recognize and cope effectively with symptoms in the future. Once you have been depressed, you are more likely to experience depression again in the future.
Where you can get help:
→ As a student at TTU, you can seek counseling at the Student Counseling Center (742-3674) at no additional cost to you.
→ You may seek a medication consultation through Student Health Services.
→ On campus, you can also seek counseling on a sliding fee basis at the Psychology Clinic (742-3737) or the Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic (742-3074)
→ If you have insurance, you can seek counseling and/or medication with professionals that are listed as providers by your insurance company.