Depression for college students can be painful, disruptive, and debilitating. It may impair you academically, socially, romantically, or in relationships with family members. It can be accompanied by cognitive impairments that makes it hard to study and a loss of will that make it hard to get motivated.

Depression: Signs and Symptoms

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling sad or empty most of the time
  • Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Feelings of worthlessness or a drop in self-esteem
  • Excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Feelings of anxiety or restless agitation
  • Feeling apathetic about most things that one used to care about
  • Decrease in sexual interest or drive
  • Behavioral or biological changes
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Changes in weight (increase or decrease) without dieting
  • Decreased ability to think or concentrate or inability to make decisions
  • Sleeping much more or much less than usual
  • Withdrawal from people and activities
  • Drop in performance at school or work

How To Know If You Have Depression

How many of the “signs of depression” did you recognize as applying to yourself? Be as honest with yourself as possible. Have any of your friends or family members expressed concern to you about your current state? Do you have someone you trust with whom you could go over the signs, to see how much each of you feels each sign describes you?

When these feelings persist over more than a 2-week period, and are present most of the time on most days, it is likely that you have depression, and treatment should be considered. If any of all of the above apply, you may benefit from counseling services.  To schedule an appointment to speak to a counselor at CAPS, please call 848-932-7884.

Suicide Prevention

Many students believe they have a friend or roommate with a problem but are afraid they will alienate their friend if they approach them. Paradoxically, people who are depressed and/or experiencing thoughts of wanting to kill themselves need people more than ever but sometimes push people away, withdraw, or behave in ways that make others wants to avoid them.

If someone you know talks about suicide or some sort of self-harm, get them immediate help. Always take such talk seriously. Do not try to assess whether or not they are experiencing a real threat or are just expressing strong feelings.  Let professionals make that judgment call. Remember that people who die by suicide often tell someone about it first. Call CAPS for consultation or if there is immediate danger, call 911.

If you are concerned, it can be helpful to ask the person in a caring, direct way about their thoughts about killing themselves. For example, it is best to say, “With all the pain you’ve been experiencing, I wonder if you’re thinking about killing yourself?” or “Sometimes people who are in similar situations have thoughts about killing themselves…do you have those thoughts?” The benefit of using the words “killing yourself”, may provide comfort to the person ashamed of their thoughts and help them identify the specific thoughts they might have. We also know that if you ask that question it does NOT make people kill themselves. Regardless how they answer your question, expressing that you care and want to help connect them with support is powerful in establishing their connection to you.

When people are stopped from killing themselves, they are almost universally glad someone stopped them. If someone “made you promise” to keep their “secret” before telling you about their suicidal plans, go ahead and break your promise. This may feel uncomfortable, but you are doing the right thing – you are saving their life! If you are still unsure how concerned you should be, call CAPS at 848-932-7884 and ask to speak to the on-call counselor about your concerns or use the hotline resources listed above. We can help you decide whether your friend needs help and how best to approach them.

Not sure how to refer a student to mental health services? Click to Learn More.