The Student with Depression
Depression is a common mental health problem that varies in severity and duration. In its less serious form, depression is a temporary reaction to loss, stress, or life challenges. It can be alleviated through the passage of time and/or the natural healing effects of social support, daily routines, and simple coping strategies like distraction and exercise.
Severe or chronic depression usually requires professional help.
Symptoms of depression include:
- feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness
- a deep sense of sadness
- an inability to experience pleasure
- irregular eating and sleeping
- difficulties with concentration, memory, and decision- making
Sometimes depression includes irritation, anxiety, and anger. In its most serious form, depression can be accompanied by self-destructive thoughts and intentions as a way to escape from the emotional pain.
Research shows that depression is highly responsive to both psychotherapy and medication.
- Talk to the student in private.
- Listen carefully and validate the student’s feelings and experiences.
- Be supportive and express your concern about the situation.
- Ask the student if he/she has thoughts of suicide.
- Discuss clearly and concisely an action plan, such as having the student immediately call for a counseling appointment.
- Refer the student to the Counseling Center, at (301) 314-7651
- Be willing to consider or offer accommodations (e.g., extension on a paper or exam), if appropriate, as a way to alleviate stress and instill hope.
- Refer the student to the Health Center’s Mental Health Service, if you believe a medication evaluation is needed.
- Ignoring the student.
- Downplaying the situation.
- Arguing with the student or disputing that the student is feeling depressed.
- Providing too much information for the student to process.
- Expecting the student to stop feeling depressed without intervention.
- Assuming the family knows about the student’s depression.