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College Depression

By: Sarah Stokes
By: Sarah Stokes

THERE'S A NEW TREND SURFACING ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES, AND IT'S PROMPTING DOCTORS TO PRESCRIBE MORE ANTI-DEPRESSANTS THAN EVER. AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, DEPRESSION MEDICATION IS SECOND ONLY TO BIRTH CONTROL NOW. AND THE U OF M REPORTS 16 STUDENTS COMMITTED SUICIDE IN THE PAST 5 YEARS. BUT WHAT'S HAPPENING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN EAU CLAIRE? PSYCHOLOGISTS SAY... MORE STUDENTS ARE REACHING OUT FOR HELP.
COLLEGE LIFE... AFTER CLASS, IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE A TIME TO MAKE MEMORIES AND BE CAREFREE...
BUT FOR HUNDREDS OF UW-EAU CLAIRE STUDENTS, THEIR DOWN TIME IS SPENT DEALING WITH DEPRESSION.
"DEPRESSION CAN REALLY DERAIL A PERSON," SAYS
DOCTOR P.J. KENNEDY, THE DIRECTOR OF THE UNIVERSITY'S COUNSELING SERVICES. HE'S HELPED COLLEGIATES FOR 22 YEARS, AND SAYS MORE DEPRESSED STUDENTS HAVE SURFACED IN THE LAST FEW.
"IT'S VERY POSSIBLE COLLEGE HAS ALWAYS HAD THIS UNDERCURRENT OF DEPRESSION BUT PEOPLE HAVE SUFFERED ALONE," SAYS KENNEDY.
OF 10,000 STUDENTS AT UW-EAU CLAIRE, MORE THAN 200 ARE GETTING TREATMENT FOR IT. IF THEY ARE DIAGNOSED WITH DEPRESSION, THEY ARE REFERRED TO THE CAMPUS CLINIC WHERE ITS DIRECTOR CONFIRMS, MORE ANTI-DEPRESSANTS ARE BEING PRESCRIBED.
KENNEDY SAYS, "MEDICATION TODAY IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN 10 OR 15 YEARS AGO."
DR. KENNEDY SAYS FOR PEOPLE OF ANY AGE, IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE CONCENTRATING, MAKING DECISIONS, OR GETTING MOTIVATED, YOU COULD BE SUFFERING FROM DEPRESSION... OR IF YOU ARE MORE IRRITABLE, ANGRY OR SELF-CRITICAL YOU MAY NEED TO SEE A THERAPIST FOR ASSESSMENT.
"PEOPLE SHOULD SEEK HELP INSTEAD OF SILENTLY CARRYING PAIN THEY DON'T NEED," KENNEDY SAYS.
SUICIDE CAN BE A REAL DANGER FOR THE DEPRESSED, KENNEDY SAYS THIS CAMPUS HASN'T HAD TO DEAL WITH IT IN THE PAST YEAR, BUT IT HAS HAPPENED. LUCKILY, SOME STUDENTS CAN PULL OUT OF DEPRESSION, HE SAYS BY BUILDING UP YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM, REBUILDING YOUR RELATIONSHIPS AND EVEN SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS EXERCISING CAN HELP.
KENNEDY SAYS, "NOT ONLY WILL YOU BE HAPPIER YOU'LL BE MORE PRODUCTIVE. FOR EXAMPLE, OUR STUDENTS CAN NOT BE EFFICIENT IF THEY ARE SUFFERING FROM DEPRESSION, THEY NEED TO GET TREATMENT SO THEY CAN BE SUCCESSFUL AT COLLEGE."
SOME OF THE STUDENTS WHO DEAL WITH DEPRESSION IN COLLEGE WERE SUFFERING AS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. ACCORDING TO THE 2004 YOUTH RISK BEHAVIOR SURVEY GIVEN TO WISCONSIN HIGH SCHOOLERS, NEARLY 30 PERCENT SAY THEY FEEL DEPRESSED FOR WEEKS AT A TIME.


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