Everyone has days when they feel sad or down.  Typically, these feelings disappear after a day or two, particularly if circumstances change for the better.  For people dealing with Depression, negative feelings linger, intensify, and often become debilitating.  Depression is a common yet serious condition that can affect a person’s ability to work, study, interact with people or take care of themselves.

Not everyone experiences depression in the same way.  Many people with depression may appear obviously sad and withdrawn, while others may seem angry or irritable.  Sometimes a person with depression may even appear to be “fine” to their friends and family.   Some people may be depressed about a specific problem, while others feel deeply unhappy without knowing why.

Depression affects about 19 million people in the United States each year.  Depression can occur as a one-time incident during a time of distress, or it can recur throughout a person’s life.  The first episode of depression often appears during the young adult years.  If you are experiencing depression, you are not alone.   Depression is a common health problem for college students.  As a college student, you might be leaving home for the first time, learning to live independently, taking tough classes, meeting new people, and getting a lot less sleep.  Financial stress and relationship concerns also can serve as major sources of stress.  These challenges and pressures can lead to feeling overwhelmed or depressed.

Sign and Symptom of Depression

If you have been experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms nearly every day for at least two weeks, you may have depression:

  • Persistent sad mood, tearfulness, or feelings of emptiness
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness. Fixating on past failures, or blaming yourself for things that are not your responsibility
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and most or all of your normal activities
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down” so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite: often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
  • Anxiety, agitation, irritability, or restlessness
  • Social Isolation, withdrawal from friends and family
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, back pain, muscle pain

Not everyone who is depressed will experience every symptom.  Some people experience only a few symptoms, while some people have many.   If you have symptoms of depression that are getting in the way of your ability to function with your studies and your social life, ask for help.  Depression can get better with treatment.  Don’t wait for depression to go away by itself or think that you can manage it all on your own.   As a college student you are busy, but it is important to make time to get help.  If you do not seek help, depression may worsen and contribute to other problems.

If you are having thoughts that life is not worth living, or ideas or harming yourself, you should seek help immediately.

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