Feeling worthless, loss of interest and thoughts of death can be just a few indicators of depression in students.
When it comes to diagnosing depression essential tool doctors may use is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), there is a certain number of symptoms that have to be met.
CSUSB’s clinical psychologist, Rachel Keener, shared how depression differs from sadness.
“Sadness is a normal emotion, it’s an appropriate response when sad things happen in the world. Depression feels like there is no joy in your life. People who are depressed tend to avoid things that used to give them joy because it’s no longer giving them that joy,” shared Keener.
An example is if someone used to really enjoy baking or dancing and fall into depression, they might go out of their way to not do it anymore.
People have different ways of expressing their depression.
One way can be a feeling of irritability or anger because of their state.
A few other behaviors that are associated are isolation and becoming quieter.
There can also be changes in their eating patterns. They can either eat a lot more or not at all eventually leading to either a gain or loss of weight.
Some people sleep for long hours while others may not be able to sleep at all.
They can also experience a feeling of worthlessness, a heavy level of guilt and not being able to focus.
When they go to class, sit through a lecture and they would probably not remember anything.
There are struggles with thoughts of death or suicide which is an immediate red flag.
With these couple of symptoms, there is a sense of how closely linked depression is with anxiety.
But there are indicators that can distinguish the mental illnesses from each other.
“Anxiety and depression tend to be really good friends, kind of the other side of the coin. Anxiety is more related to an anxious mood such as being on edge, irritable, except not everyone who is depressed feels irritated. Since they are closely related, someone might reach full criteria of a depressive disorder but only have a few symptoms of anxiety,” shared Keener.
Anxiety comes with muscle tension and sleeping disturbance, making the person have a difficult time sleeping. Panic attacks are also associated with anxiety.
For friends and family that are not sure if their loved one has depression, they can pay attention to the behaviors for signs of change.
“Are they still doing the things they enjoy doing? Are they taking care of their physical appearance? Sometimes people that are depressed let that go. Notice if they are getting the sleep they need and energy levels is a big one. Do you tell them something and just a few minutes later they ask a question related to what you just told them so you can tell they are not concentrating,” said Keener.
When it comes to coping with depression, students should aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep.
Make sure there are healthy intakes daily, avoid junk food and eating meals throughout the day.
Lacking in eating is a common trait for people with depression. It could lead to only eating once a day which makes it harder for the individual to focus.
Having a good social life tends to help in recovery.
“When you isolate you’re not getting those cues from others that they like you, find you enjoyable to be around and you’re not getting that input. It gets you stuck in negative thinking rather than being pulled out of it,” shared Keener.
Exercising helps lower stress hormones, the whole system is communicating with each other and working together to deal with the stress of any kind, either emotion or physical.
Also, try finding a sense of purpose, meaning to life or anything that can help the individual be intact with the world.