Invisible illness: Depression in college

Defined as a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness, depression affects how you think, feel and act. In a society in which we value a sense of false perfection from the media and even those around us in our everyday lives, living with depression can sometimes leave those who suffer from it feeling out of place in society.

I remember sitting on the floor, talking with someone near and dear to me and shuddering when they revealed that the idea of killing themselves had crossed their mind. It was no secret they suffered from depression, however it was not known that they had been feeling so depressed as to let this idea enter into their mind.

Sometimes called the invisible illness, unfortunately many of us do not know about those who are affected by depression, and due to many of the stigmas related to the illness, those who suffer from it are often reluctant to take that leap and say anything about it due to social stigmas.

Many college students are familiar with the phrases “I’m so depressed,” or “this test/class is giving me anxiety.” Although some simply use these claims to describe that they have what appears to be an endless amount of work, the reality is that depression and anxiety should not be taken lightly.

According to Healthline, 44 percent of American college students report having a symptom of depression and about 19 percent of those students admit to either contemplating or attempting suicide. The number of college students affected by depression has begun to see a great rise in the past years.

Unfortunately, many of these college students who suffer from depression do not openly share this fact.

In a society in which we value perfection above all else, depression is often viewed as something to be embarrassed of or ashamed of, as it makes the one affected “different” from the others around them. However, this is one stigma that needs to end.

Having depression does not make you any less of a person, it does not make you weird. Suffering from depression is not something that one should be ashamed or embarrassed of.

In recent studies by the National Institute of Mental Health , many college students who suffer from depression or who have symptoms of depression relate it to the pressure they feel from their studies, their relationships (both romantic and not) and being out and about on their own.

Now that many of us are getting to that point in the semester where it appears that many are swamped with homework assignments and exams, stress levels are running high. The ever constant and sometimes chaotic feeling of work that comes along with attending college and finals week can sometimes make it feel like things are too much or that they are not enough to finish out the semester.

Setbacks can seem like the end of the world to many college students who suffer from depression, and with the mountains of homework and the numerous exams that many have coming up, here are a couple of tips to hopefully help make things a bit smoother as we close out the semester.

Get some sleep. It won’t solve all of your problems, however staying well rested will help you manage through these last few weeks of papers and exams. Have a sleep schedule and try to stick to it.

Have a good study playlist. There are some songs that are really motivating and everyone has those couple of songs that just make them want to jump up and dance, put those on a studying playlist. This playlist will be great for when you’re feeling down, but know that you have work to do. There are a lot of great playlists already available on Spotify or Itunes Music if you do not want to make your own.

Don’t be afraid to find a quiet place to study. When looking for accommodations in some places, there might be an option to choose a quiet room. If you’d rather study in your room or at your house, be sure to find a place away from distractions (such as your television.) If you’re not against studying in the library at SHSU, the fourth floor offers a quiet place to crack open the books.

Whether it’s a friend, a classmate, a tutor or your parents, having a support system helps.

Having someone there to look out for you and offer moral support allows you to share your worries and view the situation from a different angle. Also, if you feel comfortable, you can talk to them about how you are feeling and they can sometimes offer extra support and help direct you to the relevant services. Don’t be afraid to reach out, if you’re having a bad day your support system will offer you someone to talk to.

Be sure to look into the services that your school provides.

At Sam Houston State University, counseling services are available to students. Do not, and I repeat, do not feel bad or ashamed for using these services; they are there to help you.

If you feel like you may need help, counseling services are offered at SHSU’s counseling center during normal business hours throughout the year except on university designated holidays.

For more information regarding the counseling center or to set up an appointment, you can call them at (936) 294-1720 or you can stop by and speak with someone, they are located next to Old Main Market.

All in all, remember to be kind to yourself. Not one of us is perfect. It is better to aim for improvement rather than perfection.

Don’t be afraid to be proud of yourself for getting out of bed and leaving your room or for completing your homework. Celebrate these things. Stop beating yourself up for who and what you are right now–it isn’t productive. Focus on moving forward.

There is one comment

  1. HaroldAMaio

    --the stigmas related to the illness (depression)
    You employ an interesting construction, "related to".
    If you mean by you, you need to say that. People need to know that.
    If you mean by some people, you need to say that.
    The reality is, you do not need to say it at all. And you help a great many people when you do not.

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