Seeking Help for Depression on Campus

Major, or clinical, depression is not the same as sadness, sadness lessens with time and depression can go on for months or even years.

“Depression is diagnosed if a person experiences persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety or loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities in addition to five or more of the following symptoms for at least 2 consecutive weeks,” Active Minds on Campus said.

Biochemistry of the brain, genetics, personality and environmental factors can play a role in the onset of depression.

The NDSU Counseling Center said depression affects twice as many women as men. Of adults with depression, half had the onset of depression before age 20.

About 1 out of 4 women will suffer from depression and 1 out of 10 men will.

“If left untreated depression can lead to suicide, the third leading cause of death for those aged 15-24 and the second leading cause of death of college students,” the counseling center said.

The treatment for depression is medication to regulate chemical levels in the brain and/or psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, or may be a combination of both.

The NDSU Counseling Center offers an anonymous depression assessment online that allows students to take a screening and receive feedback from an experienced clinician.

Seasonal affective disorder, SAD, is one type of depression that comes and goes in episodes with the seasons and occurs yearly.

National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, said SAD typically starts in the late fall and early winter and goes away during the spring and summer, although episodes linked to summer can occur.

Symptoms of winter SAD are low energy, hypersomnia, overeating, weight gain and social withdrawal according to NIH.

Seasonal affective disorder occurs four times more in women than men and is more common in people who live further from the equator.

The four major types of treatment for SAD are light therapy, psychotherapy, vitamin D supplements and medication.

Light therapy has been around since the 1980s and provides artificial sunlight for the diminished sunshine in fall and winter.

Vitamin D supplements may be taken to increase low vitamin D levels due to insufficient dietary intake and from insufficient exposure to sunlight in fall and winter.

Psychotherapy is usually cognitive behavioral therapy and involves identifying and replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts and identifying engaging and pleasurable activities to cope with winter, NIH said.

The same medication that is commonly used with clinical depression can also be used for SAD but there are possible risks and side effects with that medication.

NDSU has light boxes that “may be checked out from the Center for clients’ personal use,” according to the counseling center.

Students can talk to a counselor when checking the light box out to see if the option of treatment is appropriate and if they should receive counseling as well.

Both types of depression are mental illnesses with many symptoms, including physical symptoms.

The counseling center offers group and individual counseling, along with a variety of resources in person and online.

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