The Depressed Student

Depression, and the variety of ways in which it manifests itself, is part of a natural emotional and physical response to life’s ups and downs. With the busy and demanding life of a college student, it is safe to assume that most students will experience periods of reactive (or situational) depression in their college careers. Major depression, however, is a “whole-body” concern, involving your body, mood, thoughts, and behavior. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things. Major depression is not a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be wished or willed away. People with depression cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. It will interfere with a student’s ability to function academically. A common symptom of depression is cognitive impairment which includes difficulty concentrating, focusing, sustaining attention, remembering, and making decisions.

Do
  • Let the student know you’re aware he/she is feeling down and you would like to help.
  • Tell the student of your concern.
  • Reach out more than halfway and encourage the student to express how she/he is feeling. Depressed students are often initially reluctant to talk, yet others’ attention helps the student feel more worthwhile.
  • Encourage the student to use available resources including the Counseling Center and Health Center.
Don’t
  • Minimize the student’s feelings (e.g. everything will be better tomorrow).
  • Bombard the student with “fix it” solutions or advice.
  • Ignore statements about suicide or “ending it all.”