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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 Behavioral 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.
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