Depression prevalent among college students across the nation

You are not alone.

No, seriously.

One out of every four college students suffer from some form of diagnosable mental illness. According to a 2010 survey, 44 percent of college students reported feeling symptoms of depression.

Look around. If that held true for Guilford, that would mean that for a given class of 25 students, 11 feel depressed.

Depression is a common but serious mental illness; its symptoms include feeling sad, anxious, hopeless, empty, irritable, worthless and helpless for an extended period of time.

Depressed persons often lose interest in things they once enjoyed, have little energy for daily activities, have problems concentrating or remembering information, and may have thoughts of suicide.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in college students between the ages of 20–24. Nearly one in five young adults contemplate or attempt suicide each year.

With finals approaching, tuition invoices being sent out, and cold weather time spent outdoors, depression and suicide are two topics that deserve attention.

Depression does not have a single cause. For some, it’s genetic. For others, it’s environmental factors — surroundings, life experiences, stress and school.

In 2009, a nationwide survey of college students found that nearly 30 percent of students reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function” at some point in the past year.

“I battled depression,” said a Guilford CCE student who wishes to remain anonymous. “I hate saying I ‘had’ (depression). I battled it and it almost won. There were days where I literally did not get out of bed for anything. I just laid there. Never stepped outside my room, never sat up, never ate, never drank.”

Another student admits, “(I function) like a normal college student on the outside, and I keep everything hidden on the inside. My own roommate doesn’t know. Maybe they think I’m lazy. I’ve gotten good at hiding (how I feel).”

When asked why he hides his depression, the student responded that he didn’t have “a good reason to be depressed, so how can I explain it to my friends and not have a reason? They’re going to ask why.”

It isn’t unusual for college students suffering from depression to not get the help they need. In some cases, students are unsure of where to get help from, or they may believe that treatment will not help them personally. Others think their symptoms are typical for students, or they worry about being judged if they seek mental health care.

“It took time and prescriptions and psychotherapy three times a week,” said one student who overcame severe clinical depression.

“I had to try it all. It took a lot, and I was in such a dark place. I didn’t think I could be helped, but look at me now,” she said, smiling. “You’d never know. You’d have no idea.”

Another student offers advice to people who think they’re depressed.

“Tell someone, man. Reach out because you have no idea who else is going through the same thing as you. You don’t have to tell everyone if you don’t want, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a f—ing disease, not a weak attitude.”

One student sees depression and suicidal thoughts as fighting one’s mind day in and day out.

“You wake up and your brain is right there telling you how worthless you are and how you don’t deserve to exist, and you have to fight that the whole day and wake up the next day with the same thoughts. I don’t look back on my depression and see it as months of helplessness or anything. I see it as months of fighting my own brain to exist, and I feel stronger now because of it.”

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